BEIRUT • Israeli warplanes swooped low over Lebanese villages Sunday in a menacing show of force apparently aimed at the Hezbollah guerrilla group after a mysterious raid by a drone aircraft that was shot out of Israeli skies over the weekend.
Israel was still investigating Saturday's incident, but Hezbollah quickly emerged as the leading suspect because it has an arsenal of high-tech Iranian weapons and a history of trying to deploy similar aircraft.
The Israeli military said the drone approached Israel's southern Mediterranean coast and flew deep into Israeli airspace before warplanes shot it down about 20 minutes later. Israeli news reports said the drone was not carrying explosives and appeared to be on a reconnaissance mission.
Military officials would not say where the drone originated or who produced it, but they ruled out the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas, a group not known to possess drones. That left Hezbollah as the most likely culprit and suggested that the drone may have flown with the blessing of Iran. Tension is taut between Israel and Iran over Tehran's suspect nuclear program.
"It is an Iranian drone that was launched by Hezbollah," Israeli lawmaker Miri Regev, a former chief spokeswoman for the Israeli military, wrote on her Twitter feed. "Hezbollah and Iran continue to try to collect information in every possible way in order to harm Israel."
She did not offer any further evidence and was not immediately available for comment.
Hezbollah officials would not comment on speculation that the group had launched the drone.
The Israeli dailies Yediot Ahronot and Maariv published maps based on military "estimates" that claimed to show the route taken by the drone.
The maps said the aircraft took off south of the Lebanese coastal city of Sidon, headed south and then turned east over the Gaza Strip and into Israel. Yediot also claimed the drone had been made in Iran.
The Israeli military said it began tracking the aircraft over the Mediterranean but waited until it was over an empty desert to bring it down in order to avoid casualties on the ground.
Israel fires on Gaza • Israel's military says it has fired on two Gaza members of an al-Qaida-inspired group identified as having been involved in rocket attacks and an infiltration from Egypt. Palestinians say one man was killed.
The military said they were involved in "extensive terrorist activity," including an attack in June, when two gunmen crossed into Israel from the Sinai desert and killed a civilian.
Israel did not say whether it had hit the two. Ashraf al-Kidra, a Palestinian health official in Gaza, said one man was killed and another injured Sunday when their motorcycle was hit by aircraft in the south of the Hamas-controlled territory.
Israel and Hamas have mostly kept an unwritten truce since a short war more than three years ago. Attacks have persisted but at a much lower rate.