Mysterious foreign military cargo flights, potentially carrying equipment for use against Hezbollah, continue to land at the Beirut and Hamat airports, Al-Akhbar reported on Tuesday.
Between the 14th and 20th of November, nine planes from various NATO countries were recorded landing at Beirut and Hamat airports, including several flying from Tel Aviv, according to IntelSky, a website monitoring aircraft movement in the region.
Sources speaking with Al-Akhbar said the cargo included devices used for jamming, which raises questions about the reason for their transport to Lebanon and whether they will be used to disrupt the communications network of Hezbollah in the event of an escalation of the fighting with Israel in Lebanon’s south.
Since the October 7 Hamas attack on settlements surrounding Gaza, in which 1,200 Israelis were killed and 240 more taken captive, Israel and Hezbollah have engaged in deadly tit-for-tat clashes on the Lebanese-Israel border area.
Hezbollah’s communication network played a key role during the July 2006 war against Israel, which later led to US pressure on the government of then-Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to call for dismantling the resistance group’s communications network in 2008.
The same sources speaking with Al-Akhbar confirmed that the security authorities at Beirut and Hamat airports do not seriously inspect the cargo of the planes that land, with Hamat Air Base lacking even a scanning device. The final destination of the cargo in Lebanon is also unknown.
IntelSky reported that the movement of foreign military aircraft is proceeding at a level that Lebanon had not witnessed in years. Between October 8 and November 10, 32 planes landed, nine of which belonged to the US, Dutch, and British Air Forces and landed at the Hamat base, and 23 planes belonging to the US, French, Dutch, Spanish, Canadian, Italian, and Saudi armies landed at the base designated for military and diplomatic aircraft on the west side of Beirut Airport.
Although Lebanese law prohibits direct flights between Lebanon and Israel, Intelsky monitored three planes landing at Beirut Airport originating in Tel Aviv.
A British Royal Air Force Airbus A400M Atlas landed in Beirut on 14 November, coming from Tel Aviv. The plane carried out a “touch and go” operation (touching the runway and taking off directly without stopping) at a British military base in Cyprus to technically comply with Lebanese law banning direct flights from Israel.
After taking off from Beirut, the plane returned to Tel Aviv after carrying out another touch-and-go operation at the British base in Akrotiri, Cyprus.
On November 16, a US Air Force Boeing C-17A Globemaster III also flew from Tel Aviv to Beirut. The Intelsky website recorded that the plane allegedly landed in Cyprus as well but disappeared from radars before landing and reappeared after the supposed take-off. The plane was absent from radars over Larnaca for 4 minutes at an altitude of 1,264 meters, suggesting it did not land in Cyprus.
On November 21, a British Royal Air Force (Airbus A400M Atlas landed in Beirut after making only a camouflaged landing in Akrotiri, at an altitude of only 375 meters above the base, which means that the flight violated Lebanese law and was in effect a direct flight from Tel Aviv to Beirut.
IDF releases footage of strikes on Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, in response to the attacks on northern Israel. It says the sites include a command center and other infrastructure. pic.twitter.com/Lar02yl8CN— Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian (@manniefabian) November 21, 2023
It should be noted that daily flights between the Akrotiri base and Tel Aviv have been recorded since the outbreak of the “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation on October 7.
Al-Akhbar notes these flights raise suspicions about whether these trips are part of a broader strategy related to the conflict with Israel and may be intended to enhance the military capabilities of some parties in the region working on behalf of Israel and NATO, or to provide them with logistical support that includes transporting necessary equipment and supplies.
The Israeli army has not commented on the flight, except for a statement issued on November 10 confirming that “part of the air traffic at the airport is a routine movement to transfer military aid to the Lebanese army.”
The statement was issued after the Intelsky website monitored the movement of foreign military aircraft at a level that Lebanon had not witnessed in years. Between the 8th of last October and the 10th of this month, 32 planes landed, 9 of which belonged to the American, Dutch, and British Air Forces and landed at the Hamat base, and 23 planes belonging to the American, French, Dutch, Spanish, Canadian, Italian, and Saudi armies landed at the base designated for military and diplomatic aircraft on the west side of Beirut Airport.