The Israeli military said it shot down three unmanned planes launched by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah on Saturday.
The drones were heading towards an area where an Israeli gas platform was recently installed in the Mediterranean Sea.
The plane’s launch appeared to be an attempt by Hezbollah to influence US-brokered negotiations between Israel and Lebanon on their maritime border, an area rich in natural gas.
In a statement, the Israeli said the plane was spotted early and did not pose an “imminent threat”. Nonetheless, the incident prompted a stern warning from Israel’s interim prime minister, Yair Lapid.
“I stand before you at this time and say to all who seek our demise, from Gaza to Tehran, from the shores of Lebanon to Syria: don’t test us,” Lapid said in his first address to the nation since. taking office on Friday. . “Israel knows how to use its force against every threat, against every enemy.”
Earlier this month, Israel installed a gas platform in the Karish field, which Israel says is in part of its internationally recognized economic waters. Lebanon claimed it was in disputed waters.
Hezbollah issued a brief statement, confirming that it had launched three unarmed drones towards the disputed maritime issue at the Karish field during a reconnaissance mission. “The mission has been accomplished and the message has been received,” he said.
Israel and Hezbollah are bitter enemies who fought a month-long war in the summer of 2006. Israel views the Iran-backed Lebanese group as its most serious immediate threat, estimating it has some 150,000 rockets and missiles targeting Israel.
The United States said last week that mediator Amos Hochstein had had conversations with the Lebanese and Israeli sides. “The exchanges were productive and advanced the goal of bridging the differences between the two parties. The United States will remain engaged with the parties in the days and weeks ahead,” his office said in a statement the week last.
The two countries, which have been officially at war since the establishment of Israel in 1948, both claim some 860 square kilometers (330 square miles) of Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to exploit offshore gas reserves as it grapples with the worst economic crisis in its modern history.
On Saturday, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati told reporters that Lebanon had received “encouraging information” regarding the border dispute, but declined to comment further, saying Beirut was awaiting the “official written response to the Lebanese side’s suggestions”. .