June 10, 2024 | FDD's Long War Journal

Hezbollah shoots down Israeli drone, targets warplane with surface-to-air missile

June 10, 2024 | FDD's Long War Journal

Hezbollah shoots down Israeli drone, targets warplane with surface-to-air missile

Hezbollah conducted attacks on Israel throughout June 10, carrying out drone and rocket attacks across Israel’s northern Galilee from the Mediterranean Sea to the Golan Heights. The Iranian-backed terrorist group has attacked Israel thousands of times since October 8, when it began supporting Hamas’ attacks on Israel. The group has recently increased its attacks and doubled its use of drones and anti-tank missiles. Israel’s Defense Minister conducted an assessment in northern Israel on June 9 as the escalation by Hezbollah began. The attacks occurred during a potential domestic political crisis in Israel as Benny Gantz, a leader of a centric political party and member of Israel’s War Cabinet, resigned from the cabinet on June 9. Although his resignation was expected, it deprives the governing coalition of several votes.

Hezbollah is also increasing its use of surface-to-air missiles. On June 10, the group downed an Israeli Hermes 900 drone. This is at least the third Hermes 900 that has been shot down. Another Hermes 900 was downed on June 1. A Hermes 450 was shot down in April and another in February. Hezbollah appears to be having increased success against large- and medium-sized Israeli drones. Hezbollah also targeted an Israeli warplane with a surface-to-air missile on June 9.

The context of Hezbollah’s success against Israel’s Hermes family of drones comes amid an emerging challenge that large- and medium-sized UAVs face in contested airspace. Several US Reaper drones have been downed over Yemen, for example. The Iranian-backed Houthis likely share information with both Iran and Hezbollah. The Hermes is larger than the US-made Predator but smaller than the Reaper. The three types of drones fill a similar niche in terms of capabilities. The smaller Hermes 450 has commonalities with the Turkish-made Bayrtaktar. The Bayraktars have also faced challenges in Ukraine where Ukraine’s fleet of Bayraktars have been used less as the war against Russia drags on.

Hezbollah’s escalation on June 10 followed approximately eleven rounds of attacks on Sunday, June 9. On June 8, a Hezbollah drone was intercepted over the sea near the Israeli city of Nahariya. Sirens initially sounded in Israeli communities near the sea just after midnight on June 10, but the IDF said these were false alarms. There has been an uptick in false alarms over the last month amid the tensions with Hezbollah.

The next round of incidents began at 12:39, when a number of Hezbollah drones were identified and intercepted. However, at least one of them flew over Nahariya, an Israeli coastal city, and struck near a kibbutz called Kabri. Another round of sirens sounded in northern Israel between 13:15 and 14:30. These included more drone attacks and a number of anti-tank missile attacks.

The IDF said, “over the past few hours, numerous anti-tank missile launches were identified toward the areas of Manara, Yir’on, Avivim, Margaliot, and Yiftach in northern Israel. Several hits were identified on structures in the areas of Manara and Yir’on. Additionally, fires broke out in the areas of Yir’on, Yiftach and Manara. The fire in Manara was extinguished shortly afterward.” The IDF responded with artillery fire.

More drone attacks occurred during the afternoon. There were also several rocket launches toward Mount Hermon. Around sunset, the IDF said that there were several false alarms in the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona. The IDF responded to the afternoon attacks with a round of airstrikes targeting “launch post in the areas of Aitaroun and Ayta ash Shab in southern Lebanon.”

The IDF said that its air defense array has intercepted thousands of rockets, missiles and drones since the war began in October. This includes over 150 UAVs that have targeted Israel. It was not clear if this number includes the Iranian UAVs intercepted by Israeli warplanes overnight between April 13 and 14. It likely does not include those UAVs, meaning this number is primarily related to the Hezbollah drone attacks and several UAVs launched from Iraq, Syria and Yemen. The IDF also noted it created a new air defense battalion to bolster the number of Iron Dome batteries. Israel is retiring its Patriot air defense system and sending air defenders to man Iron Dome systems.

Reporting from Israel, Seth J. Frantzman is an adjunct fellow at FDD and a contributor to FDD’s Long War Journal. He is the acting news editor and senior Middle East correspondent and analyst at The Jerusalem Post. 

Issues:

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