February 26, 2024 | The Jerusalem Post

Hezbollah’s dangerous surface-to-air missile ‘equation’

The use of surface-to-air missiles or SAMs to target Israeli drones is not new.
February 26, 2024 | The Jerusalem Post

Hezbollah’s dangerous surface-to-air missile ‘equation’

The use of surface-to-air missiles or SAMs to target Israeli drones is not new.

According to news reports affiliated with Hezbollah, the terrorist group downed an Israeli Hermes 450 ‘Zik’ drone on Monday using a surface-to-air missile. The IDF said only that a “UAV fell inside Lebanese territory” after two surface-to-air missiles were fired, adding that it was “striking Hezbollah terror targets deep inside Lebanon.”

The use of surface-to-air missiles, or SAMs, to target Israeli drones is not new – Hezbollah has done this in the past. However, it has not downed many Israeli drones, making this successful targeting an escalation of sorts in the North.

This comes directly after Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visited the North and vowed to continue to strike Hezbollah until it withdrew from the border.

The Zik drone is used to conduct surveillance and can also conduct strikes. Israel uses numerous drones, from small quadcopters to larger drones the size of airplanes. The Zik is medium-sized, around six meters long, with a wingspan of 10 meters. It’s designed as a workhorse in the drone world, to be used for tactical missions. Israel has used it in Gaza and on the Northern border.

The IDF said that “David’s Sling aerial defense system intercepted a surface-to-air missile that was fired toward an IAF UAV operating in Lebanon. Following the launch of the interceptor, sirens were sounded in the area of Alon Tavor in northern Israel. No injuries were reported.”

Not the first time a surface-to-air missile has strayed across a border

Pro-Hezbollah Al-Mayadeen media said that Hezbollah downed a “Hermes 450 drone with a surface-to-air missile, over the Iqlim al-Tuffah area in southern Lebanon.” The Iranian-backed group said that the drone “fell from the sky” and was seen by locals. The “eyes of the mujahideen [Hezbollah] will remain watchful and will continue to confront the Israeli occupation aircraft and prevent them from achieving their aggressive goals,” the terrorist group said.

Al-Mayadeen also reported on the sirens that sounded in the Jezreel Valley, calling it the Marj Ibn Amer, the name for the same region in Arabic. The report suggested that the sirens in the Marj Ibn Amer were due to the missile launched from Lebanon toward the Upper Galilee.

It was unclear if this was the same as the surface-to-air missile, but the implication was that the incident was the same one. This wouldn’t be the first time a surface-to-air missile also strayed over a border. In Syria, air defense units have often fired SAMs wildly, usually using S-200s. In one case, a missile flew into Northern Cyprus and in another, a missile crossed Jordanian air space.

Hezbollah said that “the operations were concentrated in the eastern sector, where six operations were carried out. The resistance fighters targeted a gathering of occupation soldiers in the vicinity of the Ramim (Honin) barracks with missile weapons, as well as the occupation artillery positions and the deployment of its soldiers south of Kiryat Shmona using missile and artillery weapons.”

Hezbollah also claimed it targeted a barracks on Mount Dov, which it calls the Sheba’a farms, using two Falaq-1 missiles. It also targeted Manara and Malikiyah. Hezbollah has used anti-tank missiles to damage 500 buildings in northern Israel since October 8. “The two operations were carried out using appropriate weapons, and came as a response to the Israeli attacks on Lebanese villages and civilian homes, especially in the town of Blida,” Al-Mayadeen reported.

Hezbollah is closely watching developments in Israel. It knows that Israel wants Hezbollah to withdraw north of the Litani River, but it believes that Israel thinks it cannot push Hezbollah that far North. Hezbollah also monitors the discussion in Israeli media, paying close attention to Channel 12 and 13 to make its assessments regarding what Israel is thinking. An article at Ynet on Monday noted, “To provide security for its citizens, Israel must go to war with Hezbollah.” Hezbollah is watching this debate unfold in Israeli society.

Gallant, at the IDF Northern Command headquarters on Sunday, said he “came to assess how we increase our firepower and prepare to operate against Hezbollah.

“We are striking their [Hezbollah] operatives and commanders. They are looking for replacements [for their operatives], and I can tell you that I don’t see any volunteers – everyone is afraid. We will continue to strike them down,” he noted.

Gallant added, “If anyone here thinks that when we reach an agreement to release hostages in the South and the fire stops [in Gaza] temporarily, this will make things easier here – they are mistaken. We will continue the fire, and we will do so independently from the South until we achieve our goals. The goal is simple – to withdraw Hezbollah to where it should be – either via a [diplomatic] agreement, or we will do it by force.”

Hezbollah and other Lebanese media were attuned to this visit. At 4:30 a.m. on Monday, Hezbollah launched a barrage of rockets at Israel and followed that up with another barrage at noon.

Seth Frantzman is the author of Drone Wars: Pioneers, Killing Machine, Artificial Intelligence and the Battle for the Future (Bombardier 2021) and an adjunct fellow at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power