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Israel: Downing of drones over Lebanon hits air superiority says former chief

Broadcaster reports surveillance flights reduced over Lebanon after Hezbollah successfully shot down drone in 2021
An Israeli Air Force F-35 Lightning II fighter jet performs during a graduation ceremony of Israeli Air Force pilots at the Hatzerim base in the Negev desert on 24 June 2021 (AFP)

A former air force chief has warned that Israel no longer enjoys air superiority over neighbouring Lebanon, citing the shooting down of a number of drones.

The Kan broadcaster reported that Israel's intelligence-gathering capabilities had been limited after a decision was made to scale back the number of surveillance flights over Lebanon.

The decision was made in the wake of a drone being shot down over the country by an anti-aircraft missile last year.

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Speaking to the broadcaster, Amiram Norkin, outgoing commander of the Israeli Air Force, said his country needed to be aware of its limitations, particularly in terms of how it would confront regional rival Iran.

“We need to coordinate our plans to the enemies preparations. 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, and based on what answers they give, decisions are made by the leadership," he said.

"So I only give accurate, reliable answers about what we can do.”

In February, Hassan Nasrallah - leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon - said that Israeli flights over Lebanon had been "greatly reduced" as a result of improvements in Hezbollah's air defences.

That same month Israel also reportedly downed a drone piloted by Hezbollah over northern Israel.

Nasrallah first threatened to start shooting down Israeli drones in 2019 after two of them exploded in southern Beirut.