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Israel says shot down drone over Negev

Oct. 6, 2012 3:11 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 7, 2012 6:33 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli military said its air force shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle flying close to the West Bank on Saturday morning.

The drone entered Israeli airspace from the area of the southern Mediterranean sea, near the Gaza Strip, before being detected by the army's alert system, an Israeli military spokesman told Ma'an.

He said it was not immediately clear where the drone had been launched.

A military statement said the UAV was intercepted by Israeli jets around 10 a.m., and forces were searching "open areas in the northern Negev, to locate and identify the drone."

The area borders the southern West Bank, and witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli forces were also combing an area south of Hebron adjacent to the Negev.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak praised the interception as "sharp and effective".

"We view with great gravity the attempt to compromise Israeli air space and will consider our response in due course," Barak said in a statement.

In December 2010 Israeli aircraft shot down an unidentified object near the Dead Sea, security sources said at the time. They said it might have been a balloon.

Israel's own drones have also crashed in and around the occupied territories in recent years.

One unmanned vehicle crashed in northern Israel in January, a year after an unmanned vehicle crashed inside the Gaza Strip. Hamas' armed wing took control of that drone.

In May, an Israeli military surveillance zeppelin crashed near the Gaza Strip after a civilian plane struck its cable, a military spokeswoman said at the time.

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