In a short statement on Friday, the army confirmed reports of shooting at an Israeli drone in southern regions.
“On January 13, 2023, while an army patrol was inspecting an (Israeli) violation in the outskirts of the southern town of Houla and Wadi Hounin, a drone belonging to the Israeli enemy violated the Lebanese airspace in the aforementioned area and hovered over the patrol, which promoted soldiers to open fire toward it,” reads the statement published in the army’s Twitter account.
Lebanese forces have not provided further details about the encounter while Israeli officials have not yet reacted to the incident.
Meanwhile, citing a security source, Reuters claimed the drone was not downed.
Israeli drones and vessels regularly violate Lebanon’s borders on their spying missions despite Beirut’s warnings.
Back in October 2022, Israeli gunboats violated Lebanon’s territorial waters several times. According to Lebanon’s army, the gunboats entered several hundred meters inside the country’s waters in an area opposite Ras Naqoura in southern Lebanon.
The army said it had reported four violations to the United Nations a day earlier, adding that it is discussing them with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon.
Lebanon approved a US-mediated maritime border deal with Israel in October. The deal has been described as a win for Lebanon. At the time, then-President Michel Aoun called it a “historic achievement,” and said Lebanon was “able to recover a disputed area of 860 square kilometers.”
“Lebanon did not concede a single square kilometer to Israel,” he said after approving the deal, adding that his country had seized full control over the Qana field.
“This indirect agreement responds to the Lebanese claims and fully preserves our rights,” Aoun said, stressing that “no normalization with Israel took place and no direct talks or agreements were held with it.”
Lebanon and the occupying regime are technically at war, given that the latter has kept the country’s Shebaa Farms under occupation since 1967.
Lebanon fought off two Israeli wars in 2000 and 2006. On both occasions, battleground contribution by its Hezbollah resistance movement proved an indispensable asset, forcing the Israeli military into retreat.
The country eyes the issue of delineation of its southern border zone with great sensitivity both due to being wary of Israel’s expansionist attitude and given its plans to engage in oil and gas exploration in its share of the Mediterranean.