Israeli drone hovers over Lebanese capital

Unmanned aircraft was spotted several times above south Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold, in the past few days

In this Friday, March 27, 2020 photo, Hezbollah members block a road, as others of the Islamic Health Society, an arm of the Iran-backed militant Hezbollah group, spray disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus, in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon. Hezbollah has mobilized the organizational might it once deployed to fight Israel or in Syria's civil war to battle the spread of the novel coronavirus. It aims to send a clear message to its Shiite supporters that it is a force to rely on in times of crisis -- particularly after it suffered a series of blows to its prestige. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
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An Israeli drone was spotted flying above Beirut and its southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold, for several days.

Lebanon's National News Agency reported the unmanned aircraft's presence, describing it as an "enemy drone".

Lebanon and Israel are technically at war since the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. A source from the Lebanese army confirmed that the drone was Israeli.

The drone was loud enough to be heard across Beirut on Sunday night, prompting many residents to comment about the noise on Twitter.

"Friend’s video from last night. Many mentioned #Israel #drone over #Beirut & all parts of #Lebanon is the norm. We hear it clearly now due to curfew & little noise pollution," tweeted Rita Kabalan, a photographer based in the Lebanese capital.

On March 15, the government curtailed opening hours for shops and imposed restrictions on movement at night to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus which has infected 630 people and killed 20 in Lebanon since February 21.


Coronavirus in the Middle East


On April 7, the interior ministry reduced traffic further by introducing the odd-even number plate system that allows cars on the road only every other day, with no traffic allowed on Sundays.

Israeli drones regularly breach Lebanon's airspace despite complaints to the United Nations. The Lebanese army, which does not have the capacity to stand up to Israel, rarely retaliates.

Last August, two Israeli drones crashed over a Hezbollah building in south Beirut, causing minor injuries to three people.

A few days later, a Lebanese soldier opened fire with his M16 assault rifle at three Israeli drones hovering above a military camp near the border, drawing praise from Lebanese politicians.

In early September, Hezbollah retaliated by firing anti-tank missiles at Israeli targets across the border. Israel responded by shelling Lebanese territory. Both sides claimed there were no casualties.

Israel and Hezbollah last fought in the 34-day war of 2006.