Published April 11, 2005
BEIRUT, Lebanon – The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah (search) flew a spy drone over northern Israel on Monday, and the unmanned flight returned safely, the group said.
The flight was confirmed by the Lebanese government and the Israeli military.
Hezbollah said in a broadcast over its Al-Manar Television channel that "a Mirsad drone of the Islamic Resistance flew over settlements in the northern part of occupied Palestine and later returned safely."
A statement from the Israeli military said: "A short while ago an unmanned aerial vehicle operated by the Hezbollah terrorist organization was identified crossing into Israeli territory in the western Galilee." It said the military was looking into the incident.
Two Israeli military aircraft flew over southern Lebanon shortly after the drone's flight, Lebanese officials said. Earlier Monday, an Israeli reconnaissance plane flew over southern and eastern Lebanon, the Lebanese Army command said.
Monday's was the second flight over Israel by a Hezbollah drone. The Iranian-backed group sent such an aircraft over northern Israel on Nov. 7, saying it was in response to repeated Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace.
Hezbollah, which draws its support from Lebanon's 1.2 million Shiite Muslims, is widely admired in this country and the Arab world for its military role in forcing Israel to leave southern Lebanon in 2000 after an 18-year occupation.
The U.S. government blames Hezbollah for numerous attacks since the 1980s, including the bombings of a U.S. Marine barracks and U.S. Embassy in Beirut.