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Chopper carrying Israel's Netanyahu lands after drone spotted off coast

TEL AVIV, Israel - A helicopter carrying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reportedly forced to land in the north of the country after an unmanned drone was spotted trying to infiltrate Israel's airspace.

The prime minister's helicopter took off after the drone was shot down, according reports in Haaretz and Ynetnews

"The (unmanned aerial vehicle) was tracked by IDF ground and aerial surveillance for the duration of its flight path as it attempted to approach Israel's coast," the Israeli Defense Forces, or IDF, said in a statement.  "Israel Air Force aircraft intercepted the UAV and successfully downed the target five nautical miles off the coast of the northern Israeli city of Haifa."

The IDF declined to confirm Israeli media reports that Netanyahu's helicopter landed, but the prime minister did issue a statement shortly after news of the incident was released.

"I view with utmost gravity this attempt to violate our border. We will continue to do everything necessary to safeguard the security of Israel's citizens," the prime minister said in a statement. 

The incident was the second time in seven months that a drone had been intercepted in Israeli airspace, the IDF said. It did not say where the drone originated, but during the 2006 Israeli war with Lebanon, Israeli jets intercepted two drones launched by Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant organization. 

"UAVs pose a serious threat to the State of Israel's security. The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to violate Israel's sovereignty or harm its security," the IDF statement added. 

The IDF said it was searching the area over which the drone was shot down on Thursday evening.


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