JERUSALEM — Israel shot down a drone Thursday as it approached its northern coast from neighboring Lebanon, raising suspicions that the Hezbollah militant group was behind the infiltration attempt.
Hezbollah denied involvement, but the incident was likely to heighten Israeli concerns that the Shiite militant group is trying to take advantage of the unrest in neighboring Syria to strengthen its capabilities.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in a helicopter in northern Israel at the time of the incident, said he viewed it with "utmost gravity."
Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said the unmanned aircraft was detected as it was flying over Lebanon and tracked as it approached Israeli airspace.
He said the military waited for the aircraft to enter Israeli airspace, confirmed it was "enemy," and then an F-16 warplane shot it down, smashing its wreckage into the sea about 5 miles off the northern port of Haifa. Lerner said Israeli naval forces were searching for the remains of the aircraft.