Middle East skies – the tension is in the air

The skies in the Middle East are changing, in parallel with the dramatic developments in some countries in the region.

Changes in Egypt, Syria and Libya, and the fragile stability in Lebanon, have completely changed the situation in the airspaces that neighbour Israel.

This has been amplified by the high tension between Israel and Turkey, following the Israeli navy’s operation against the “Peace Flotilla” that sailed from a Turkish port in the direction of Gaza.

After a long period of stability, the airspace in the region is a reflection of the situation on the ground.

Apart from one unconfirmed incident between Israeli F-15s and Turkish F-16s near the Turkish part of Cyprus, nothing has happened, but tension is in the air.

There is a mutual effort by all parties to keep the situation under control but it is clear that, unlike in the past, any small incident can become a big one.

When terrorists from Gaza staged an attack on Israelis near Eilat in southern Israel a few weeks ago, Israeli air force Apache helicopter pilots that were scrambled to the area to take part in the hunt were instructed not to use their weapons system in case something suspicious was detected on the Egyptian side of the border.

In such situations there is an understanding that each action should be evaluated and approved by the highest authorities.

There is no way to tell when the situation will stabilise. For the time being there is a “business as usual” effort, but at the same time the tension is in the air in the most concentrated sense of these words.


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