Israeli intelligence and air force waged a cyber battle Saturday, Oct. 6 with unidentified parties, most likely Hizballah or Iran, who sent a satellite-guided unmanned helicopter into Israeli air space through the Mediterranean.  debkafile’s military sources report exclusively that for 30 minutes, as the helicopter flew over southern Israel, control swung back and forth between Israeli cyber operators and unknown agents.

The battle was finally resolved by an Israel decision to scramble four F-16 fighters to shoot the trespasser down, the while Israeli cyber experts tried to identify its satellite controller.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak released a statement saying that Israel takes a very grave view of the incursion and will weigh its response.

debkafile reported earlier Saturday, straight after the incident:

Israeli air force jets were scrambled Saturday, Oct. 6 to shoot down a small unmanned aircraft from Gaza. It was downed over the Yatir forest in the southern Mt. Hebron district after cutting across southern Israeli airspace. It crashed at around 1000 local time. Israeli troops are scouring the area in search of fragments.

debkafile’s military sources reports that the unmanned plane was sent over Israeli airspace at the start of a military mobilization exercise conducted by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It is coordinated with Hizballah and sponsored by Iran. The Lebanese terrorist group may have helped Hamas launch the aerial vehicle, which came in from the west.

It [w]as shot down almost half an hour after the intrusion. The IDF spokesman denied it caught Israel intelligence unawares. He said the UAV was tracked from the start and the operation for downing it was delayed to avoid harm to civilian locations in its path.

Our sources add that the plan for the Gaza exercise was approved in the talks Hamas leaders Mahmoud A-Zahar and Marwan Issa held with Iranian and Hizballah leaders in Tehran and Beirut in the second week of September. They agreed then that Hamas would take active part in any Iranian or Syrian conflict with Israel.

After launching the small UAV, Hamas went ahead with its call-up of reserve strength for active duty. Roadblocks were thrown up to keep Gaza Strip roads from being clogged with civilian traffic and speed up military movement.  Palestinian sources claim that before it was detected the Hamas craft managed to fly over Israeli bases and towns including Beersheba.