While rockets from Gaza rained down on Israel and Arab rioting filled the streets, another story of the conflict between Israel and Iran was quietly unfolding.
The story began last Monday night when six rockets were fired at Israel from southern Lebanon. All fell short of the border and landed inside Lebanese territory and the IDF responded by targeting the source of the rocket launch in Lebanon with tank and artillery shells. There were no reports of casualties or damage and the incident seemed over, with no lasting repercussions.
At around 4 AM on Tuesday, the IDF shot down a drone that was approaching the northern section of the Israeli-Jordanian border near the Israeli city of Bet Shean.
“The UAV was being monitored by IDF air control units. The fragments of the UAV were collected by security forces,” the military said.
The remains of a UAV that was shot down over the North-East part of Israel. No details on the type, origin and flight path were published. pic.twitter.com/rGwI2iNqim
— Tal Inbar (@inbarspace) May 18, 2021
On Thursday, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced that the drone was determined to be manufactured in Iran and it was armed with explosives. The suspected launch site for the drone was either Iraq or Syria.
In a similar case in 2018, a drone was flown from Syria into northern Israel before it was shot down by an Israeli helicopter.
Coincidentally, on Friday, a post on the website of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards announced the production of a new combat drone dubbed “Gaza” in a tribute to Palestinians. The new drone is purported to be able to carry13 bombs while flying at over 35,000 feet at a speed of almost 200 mph for 20 hours.
In a seemingly unrelated incident, Iran announced an explosion and fire at a chemical and fireworks factory in the central province of Isfahan in Iran early Sunday morning. Nine people were hurt in the incident. The Mehr state news agency reported that “the reason for the explosion at the Sepahan Nargostar chemical industry is under investigation.”
Post on social media by local residents reported that the ground shook from the explosion at the chemical factory.
The Guardian reported on Sunday that the complex reported as a chemical factory was, in fact, a factory for producing drones.
“The Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (Hesa), which produces a variety of aircraft and drones for Iranian and pro-Iranian forces, is located in the complex owned by Sepahan Nargostar Chemical Industries,” the Guardian wrote. “There was no independent confirmation of the cause of the explosion or the precise factory hit.”
Israel has been accused of sabotaging Iranian facilities in the past, most notably the Natanz nuclear site in April. The incident took place one day after a chain of 164 advanced IR-6 uranium enrichment centrifuges went online at the site.