Russian technology in Syria ‘jamming’ Israeli airports

Relations between Russia and Israel have become strained since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, potentially affecting operations in Syria. [Getty]

Israeli media reported this week that Israeli commercial aircraft have had to divert flights and take alternative routes to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv due to apparent GPS jamming by Russian weaponry in Syria.

According to Israeli news Channel 12, the aviation authority said that “in recent months, Israel has witnessed continuous interference targeting GPS systems from outside Israel, ” affecting aircraft landing procedures.

The Israeli government reportedly are investigating the possibility of “Russian electronic combat devices operating in Syria and the eastern Mediterranean.”

Israel has accused Russia of interfering with Israeli aircraft operations since at least 2019, though Moscow has consistently denied the allegation.

Russia intervened to support its ally Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war in 2015 and has established an airbase along the Syrian coast and installed missile defence systems across the country.

It carries out bombing missions on behalf of the Syrian government, particularly in the opposition-held northwest of Syria. Human rights organisations have accused it of indiscriminate bombing and killing of civilians.

Russia has reportedly been known to use GPS “spoofing,” which disrupts the ability of aircraft and other devices which rely on signal monitoring in the area.

The alleged GPS interference has caused aircraft to appear as if they are in a different location than they really are, disrupting proper communication with the Ben Gurion airport.

Both Russia and Israel regularly conduct airstrikes in Syria, with the latter mainly targeting Iranian positions or weaponry within Syria.

Russia has generally tolerated the Israeli strikes, with the two sides reportedly settling on a “gentleman’s agreement” where Russia turns off its missile defence radars when Israel conducts aerial raids.

Since Israel condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, however, relations between the two countries have worsened.

In February 2023, Russia publicly rebuked Israel for an airstrike in Damascus, a rare step for Russia.

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