Diplomacy & defense
Amid ongoing tension on Israel's northern borders, a new threat has emerged for Israeli fighter pilots conducting spying missions in Lebanon, Walla reports.
Using radar technology it has acquired since Russia's entry into the Syrian civil war, Hezbollah has started using sophisticated radars to "lock on" to Israeli spy jets on reconnaissance flights over their northern neighbor.
The new technology can identify all Israeli fighter jets, according to sources within Israel's security establishment. By locking on to the jets as targets, Walla says, Hezbollah can then fire missiles at them.
Nonetheless, the sophistication of Israel's fighter fleet means they are equipped to deal with such threats, which enables them to detect and follow radars that threaten to lock onto them ahead of launching missiles.
In such an event, pilots can change their plane's route, especially when they are simply on an intelligence-gathering mission.
Israeli security officials believe Hezbollah has acquired the technology through its ties with Russia, forged as a result of their mutual fight against Islamic State in Syria, Walla reported.
"The connection between Hezbollah, Russia and Syria have greatly changed the rules of the game in the region," a security official was quoted as saying in Walla.
"Hezbollah is indicating to Israel that it is ready for the next stage."
During the last all-out war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006, the Shi'ite militant group hit just one Israeli fighter jet using an anti-tank missile, but while the aircraft was grounded. In the wake of the war, Hezbollah began acquiring advanced anti-aircraft weapons from Iran and Syria, Walla says.
The Israel Air Force has on several occasions attacked weapons convoys making their way from Syria to Lebanon over the last few years, according to foreign media reports.
In January, The Daily Beast reported that the Russians are supplying Hezbollah with sophisticated weaponry, including precision ground-to-ground missiles,
long-range tactical missiles, laser guided rockets, and anti-tank weapons.
The Hezbollah militants who told The Daily Beast about the arms transfers said that the group, the Assad regime and Iran have a "relationship of complete coordination" and that Hezbollah is receiving the arms "with no strings attached."
“We are strategic allies in the Middle East right now—the Russians are our allies and give us weapons,” one of the Hezbollah officers in charge of five units in Syria told The Daily Beast.