Drones confiscated after being flown across the border from neighboring Lebanon, according to Israeli security officials, have offered insight into the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group’s developing aerial surveillance capabilities.
Although Lebanon and Israel are formally at war, drones have become a common sight along their closely guarded border.
Images taken from a drone crashed in August and provided to AFP showed Hezbollah drone operators, photographs of other drones, and an overhead shot of a northern Israeli settlement and military installation, according to the source.
According to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the tape appears to show Hezbollah special forces training in the use of drones, which he claims is the first time Israel has seen such footage.
According to a second source, Hezbollah owned five drones captured last year, including a tiny observation drone shot down on Tuesday.
“We’re learning about the adversary, and the enemy is learning about us,” added the second source, who requested anonymity as well. “It’s almost like Hezbollah and us are in a learning race.”
Israel is a pioneer in the development and deployment of drones in combat, but its technological dominance is being challenged by arch-foe Iran, which is developing unmanned aerial vehicles for military purposes as well.
According to the second report, Hezbollah’s drones were not necessarily Iranian-made, but rather common commercially accessible equipment.
“It’s so simple to just buy a drone from the market and use it to gather intelligence and do anything you want,” he added.
Hezbollah claimed to have shot down an Israeli drone over Lebanon in September.
Hezbollah is based in Lebanon, which is suffering from a severe economic crisis. According to the first security source, Hezbollah’s drone program appears to have been unaffected by the economic downturn.