Scale model of a Hezbollah UAV at the resistance museum located in Mleeta, southern Lebanon (Photo credit: Times Aerospace)
Israel no longer enjoys superiority and freedom over the skies of Lebanon, according to the outgoing Israeli Air Force chief Amikam Norkin.
Speaking to the Kan public broadcaster on 5 April, Norkin stated this reality has been apparent to the Israeli military establishment after Hezbollah unsuccessfully attempted to down an Israeli drone almost one year ago.
In 2019, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced that Israeli drones could be targeted over Lebanese skies, after two small drones exploded in Beirut – an attack linked to Israel.
After this, Israel decided to reduce the number of surveillance drones over Lebanon, according to Norkin.
The reduction in drone activity over Lebanon was confirmed in a speech from February by Nasrallah, where he also mentioned that Hezbollah has been manufacturing its own drones which could launch retaliatory strikes against Israel.
Conversely, Hezbollah has also been gaining advantage over Israeli skies. On 18 February, days after Nasrallah’s speech, Hezbollah sent an unarmed surveillance drone into Israeli territory.
Despite initial claims that the drone had been downed, Hezbollah announced its safe return, in what many considered a major humiliation for the Israeli military establishment.
As a show of force, the Israeli Air Force responded by sending two F-16 fighter jets to fly at extremely low altitudes over Beirut, terrorizing local citizens.
Norkin also referred to how the Israeli Air Force matches up to Iranian capabilities.
“We need to present what we can do, not only in Iran, in 2022, 2023 and on. But we also need to stand by what we cannot do, because the air force head has a huge responsibility,” Norkin said.
The Israeli Air Force regularly targets alleged Iran and Hezbollah in Syria. A recent attack in March killed two Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officers, which sent the Israeli military establishment into panic, while awaiting a response from Iran.
A few days later, Iran launched several ballistic missiles at a Mossad base in Erbil, Iraq. However, an IRGC source told The Cradle exclusively that the Erbil retaliatory strike was in response to a different event, and not the attack in Syria, which Iran will respond to at a future point in time.