Israel used a Patriot missile to shoot down a drone approaching the Golan Heights on the border with Syria on Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces said.
Israel said the drone — formally called an unmanned aerial vehicle — was on an intelligence-gathering mission for Syria’s regime in Quneitra, and it entered the demilitarized zone and flew toward Israel before it was shot down near Safed.
“The state of Israel views with great severity any violation of sovereignty and will respond with force to any provocation,” Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in a statement. “We view the Syrian regime as responsible and call on it to restrain all the elements operating from its territory. We will not allow the establishment of the Shiite axis in Syria as a base for forward action.
Before intercepting the drone, Israel’s military contacted Russian counterparts operating over the border to verify that the drone did not belong to the Russians, Haaretz reported.
Two months ago, the IDF fired a Patriot missile after a drone was nearing Israel’s airspace in the same area. The IDF said the drone was launched from Damascus and operated by Lebanon-based militant Shiite group Hezbollah.
Last month, Israel struck three Syrian artillery cannons after errant rocket fire landed in the Israeli Golan Heights.
“We have a clear policy,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the strike last month. “We will attack anyone who attacks us. We won’t accept spillover. If they attack us, we return fire. And it doesn’t take much time.”
By Allen Cone