A month after a drone believed to have been sent by Hezbollah illegally entered Israeli airspace and eluded IDF attempts to bring it down, Russia admitted that the drone was actually theirs and said the breach had been a mistake.
When the unknown drone penetrated 4 kilometers deep into Israel’s airspace from Syria on July 17, the IDF tried three times to bring it down, twice using Patriot surface-to-air missiles and once using an air-to-air missile fired by an Israel Air Force (IAF) fighter jet. The attempts failed and the drone returned to Syria unharmed.
Initially, the drone was suspected to have been sent by the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah. However, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Sunday that Russia admitted having sent the drone, albeit accidentally.
Russian officials said the breach occurred as a result of “human error”. Haaretz reported that seven phone conversations between the IAF and Russian forces in Syria took place over a 20-minute stretch during the incident, with Israel trying to confirm that the drone was Russian, but Russia insisted that none of their drones had entered Israeli territory.
Israel then fired at the craft but did not succeed in shooting it down.
Only later did Russia admit that the craft was theirs, but maintained that its encroachment into Israeli territory had been a mistake. After an IAF probe into the incident was launched, Israeli officials concluded that the invasion was, indeed, unintentional, though the Times of Israel suggested that it may have been an attempt on Russia’s part to test Israel’s air defense capabilities.