JERUSALEM — Israel said Thursday that it shot down an unmanned aircraft that had entered Israeli airspace off the northern coast near Haifa, the second such incident in nearly seven months.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said the drone was first detected as it was flying along the coast of Lebanon toward Israel. When it became clear that the aircraft was not going to stop or change course, Israel dispatched helicopters and F-16 warplanes to destroy it about five miles off the coast, as it flew at an altitude of about 6,000 feet.
A naval search for the downed aircraft was underway.
Military officials said they suspect the drone was sent by Hezbollah. The Lebanese militant group issued a brief statement on its television station, Al Manar, denying any role in the flight.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose helicopter happened to be flying in northern Israel at the time of the incident and was temporarily grounded as a precaution, said he viewed the attempted border breach with "utmost gravity."