Hezbollah downs Israeli spy balloon over south Lebanon

Hezbollah said the operation was the result of reconnaissance of Israel’s military bases in the north. [Getty]

Hezbollah announced it downed an Israeli spy balloon over south Lebanon on Tuesday after targeting the air base in north Israel which controls the balloon.

A statement from the group said that it hit the balloon’s launching pad, its control mechanism and personnel on the base, which led to injuries among Israeli soldiers and the balloon to fly out of control.

Hezbollah claimed the attack was a result of its reconnaissance on Israeli operations.

Videos after the attack show the spy balloon descending over south Lebanon and falling, where people began to disassemble the machine.

Cross-border clashes started on 8 October after Hezbollah launched rockets at Israel “in solidarity” with Hamas’s 7 October attack.

Since then, both Hezbollah and Israel have worked to establish surveillance capacity over southern Lebanon and northern Israel.

Israel uses several surveillance towers positioned in the highlands overlooking south Lebanon. The towers are equipped with various advanced surveillance sensors, such as the “SPEED-ER” system.

The latter system can identify human beings at a distance of 5 kilometres and vehicles at 10km and can provide thermal imaging and targeting capabilities.

Israel also employs surveillance drones which fly over south Lebanon almost constantly. In early January, Israel deployed a 55-metre spy blimp known as the “Sky Dew” over south Lebanon as an advanced form of radar systems.

Sky Dew is a joint project between Israel Aerospace Industries and US balloon manufacturer TCOM. It is reportedly capable of monitoring a 250km area and detecting low-altitude objects like cruise missiles.

Hezbollah has targeted Israeli surveillance towers along the border and downed at least four Israeli drones since October. In turn, Israel has tried to burn down forests which it says Hezbollah uses for cover while conducting attacks on northern Israel.

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