Israel flew in Lebanese airspace over 22,000 times in last 15 years - study

Israel continues to carry out fights in Lebanese airspace, claiming it is necessary to fight Hezbollah, and, by proxy, Iran.

An Israeli Air Force F-35 flies during an aerial demonstration at a graduation ceremony for Israeli air force pilots at the Hatzerim air base in southern Israel, June 27, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
An Israeli Air Force F-35 flies during an aerial demonstration at a graduation ceremony for Israeli air force pilots at the Hatzerim air base in southern Israel, June 27, 2019.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

Israeli Air Force aircraft flew in Lebanese airspace at least 22,000 times in the past 15 years, a new Lebanese advocacy website has claimed.

The website, AirPressure.info, claims that 22,111 Israeli fighter jets, reconnaissance planes, unmanned aerial vehicles and missiles flew in Lebanese skies for a total of eight and a half years with many of the flights lasting an average of four hours and 35 minutes.

Tracking the flights

One flight by a UAV in September 2008 lasted 770  minutes (almost 13 hours). Another in August 2008 lasted 1,135 minutes (almost 19 hrs) and flew over Aitaroun, Zahla, Riyaq, Baalbek, Ras el Matn, Baabda, Beirut, Aley and Naquoura. Another flight lasted 1,125 minutes and flew over the south Lebanon villages of Kfar Kila, Kfar Chouba and Naquoura.

The data compiled are from 2007 until December 28, 2021.

ISRAELI F-35 takes off from an airbase in southern Israel (credit: AMIT AGRONOV/ISRAEL AIR FORCE)ISRAELI F-35 takes off from an airbase in southern Israel (credit: AMIT AGRONOV/ISRAEL AIR FORCE)

“The combined duration of these flights amounts to 3,098 days. That is 8.5 years of jets and drones continually occupying the sky,” the website wrote.

How was the research conducted? 

The research was carried out by artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Nabla Yahya and Ahmad Baydoun. Hamdan’s investigations focus on sound and linguistics and according to his website, his work has been used as advocacy for Amnesty International and Defense for Children International.

The website also compiled 243 letters of Israeli violations by Lebanon to the UN Security council and 11 peer-reviewed papers from scientific journals that detail the acute physiological effects of noise caused by aircraft, including hypertension, sleep disturbance and more.

“These aerial incursions are an unprecedented violation of a population’s privacy by a foreign nation,” the website claimed.

“People’s phone calls and text messages are being accessed and their homes and movements photographed indiscriminately. Moreover, regular and protracted exposure to these overhead military aircraft impacts the physical and psychological lives of those that have had to endure the constant air pressure from above.”

AirPressure.org

Among the 8,231 fighter jets and 13,102 unmanned aerial vehicles documented were F-35i, F-16, Popeye AGM-142, Heron Tp, Hermes 450, DJI Matrice 100, Cessna AC 208, Embraer EMB 314 and passenger jets.

What was the record-breaker? 

According to the website, the highest number of Israeli fighter jets entering Lebanese airspace in a single day was 56 on July 26, 2010, and the highest number of UAVs entering Lebanese airspace in one day was 92 on July 2, 2008. The highest number of aircraft entering Lebanon in one year was in 2008 when 3,134 flew over Lebanon, followed by 2,390 in 2010 and 2,344 in 2020.

The website mapped many of the flight routes, and while aircraft were documented in the north of the country as well as close to the Syrian border, the majority of the flights were concentrated in southern Lebanon.

Israel regularly carries out flights over Lebanon, claiming they are necessary to counter Hezbollah’s ongoing efforts to increase its rocket and missile arsenal as well as its precision missile project that continues with help from Iran.

Israel also uses Lebanese airspace to carry out airstrikes against Iran in neighboring Syria where it is attempting to entrench its forces and militias as a forward-operating base against the Jewish state.

Nevertheless, former IAF commander Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amikam Norkin said in an April interview with Kan that Israel no longer had full aerial superiority and freedom of action in Lebanese skies.

Norkin said that due to the anti-aircraft capabilities of Hezbollah, Israel had to reduce the number of surveillance flights over the country, harming the IDF’s intelligence-gathering capabilities.

Israel and Lebanon are still officially at war.