In what Lebanese media reported as a deeply provocative act, an Israeli jet did a high speed and low altitude flyover of the city of Saida in the country’s South on Sunday. Lebanese citizens and security sources also reported sonic booms which broke windows and shook buildings. Lebanese social media mentioned possible injuries due to falling glass and regional outlets showed images of damaged buildings and momentary panic in the area under the fly-by. The region has been the site of major military incursions by Israel over the past years, especially during the last major Israeli bombing of the country in 2006.
An Associated Press reporter witnessed multiple Israeli jets while locals captured photographs of planes at higher altitudes just prior to the low fly-by. The AP’s account is as follows:
An Associated Press reporter in Sidon heard two sonic booms and saw four jets flying overhead at various altitudes on Sunday. Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported one sonic boom caused by a low-flying Israeli jet.
…Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry said Saturday it was filing a complaint against Israel at the U.N. Security Council for violating its national airspace to strike targets inside Syria.
Video footage purporting to show the flyover circulated widely, and was even picked up by some international media outlets, but was later proven to be fake.
Last week Israel attacked a Syrian military base just across Lebanon’s border, which was carried out by jets flying over Lebanese airspace. As we previously reported the flagrant act of aggression was likely designed to provoke a response as Israeli leadership is concerned that Assad has not only survived but appears to be winning the war in Syria. Lebanon barely has an air force and further lacks adequate or high tech missile defense systems.
According to regional media, “Lebanese security officials told a Hezbollah-affiliated radio station the Israeli sorties were part of a large-scale training exercise the IDF is currently holding in northern Israel meant to prepare for a future war with the Shiite terror organization.” Middle East historian As’ad AbuKhalil noted after the incident that the Lebanese government recorded over 7000 Israeli violations of Lebanese Airspace in the first decade of the 2000’s alone.
It is likely that Sunday’s stunt was also meant to send a direct message to Syria: Israel has this summer consistently declared a “red line” warning of repercussions should Iranian and Hezbollah troops not leave Syria.