Israeli warplanes dominate Lebanese skies for 8 and half of last 15 years

Israeli warplanes dominate Lebanese skies for 8 and half of last 15 years

For decades, the roar of Israeli jets and the hum of surveillance drones have been regular features in the skies above Lebanon, buzzing towns and cities at will and acting as constant reminders that war is never far away.

The research released on Thursday shows how pervasive the presence has been, with at least 22,000 overflights documented in the past 15 years alone. The numbers have made warplanes an enduring soundtrack to Lebanese life and the threat of violence a part of the country's collective psychology.

The research shows that Israeli planes have occupied the skies of Lebanon for a total of eight and a half of the past 15 years, according to a new organisation, Few of the incursions last an average of four hours and 35 minutes. Most of the most technically advanced fighter planes or surveillance aircraft in the world are no match for basic Lebanese ground defences.

Maps of the flight routes taken by the jets and drones reveal a spaghetti bowl of loops over most areas of Lebanon. The flights are concentrated in the south, where they seem to follow set routes. Beirut is also a frequent destination, as are areas north of the capital and closer to the Syrian border.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan, who assembled the study, said that regular exposure to overflights by warplanes had taken a toll on those living below. has compiled 11 peer-reviewed papers from scientific journals that detail the acute physiological effects of aircraft noise, with symptoms ranging from hypertension to diminished blood circulation and psychosomatic pains.

Perhaps less understood is the psychological effect of foreign warplanes dominating the skies above a civilian population. They often fly at low altitudes that cause alarm and panic.

While in Lebanon, each of these acts is felt as a passing moment, and no two residents may hear jets in the same way or at the same time, said Abu Hamdan. I want to present an accumulated crime that has taken place over the past 15 years.

This should be seen as an atmosphere of violence. It takes its toll over time, and that is why it can't be ignored, but it shouldn't be ignored any longer. Why should a population live under mass surveillance and live under a hostile sky? The numbers were compiled from 243 letters sent by Lebanon to the UN security council, which was often informed by data supplied by the UN interim force in Lebanon, a peacekeeping mission, and the Lebanese army.

Over the past two years, researchers were hired to look at the skies and chronicle images of Israeli aircraft. These videos capture the threatening sounds and sights of Israeli military aircraft, as well as the discussion among citizens and residents about what is happening above them, said Abu Hamdan.

Israel has long maintained that its intrusions over Lebanon are necessary to gain intelligence from Hezbollah, the militia-cum political bloc that holds sway over most political decisions in the country and outguns the national army. It has also used Lebanese skies to bomb targets in Syria linked to Iran, the key backer of Hezbollah.

The Israeli air force has some of the most powerful surveillance capabilities in the world and has been worried that civilian communications are regularly intercepted by Israel s eavesdropping planes.

Since the end of decades of civil war and the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000, Lebanon and Israel have technically remained at war. The last violent incident between Israel and Hezbollah occurred in the summer of 2006, and was the result of a month long war between them.