There is a running joke that while the US is the world’s biggest maker and exporter of weapons, no other country uses military equipment and weapons as much as Israel. And, when it comes to state-of-the-art fighter jets, this is now officially the case: an Israeli military official said Israel was the first regime in the world to have used the US-made F-35 stealth fighter jets in attack mode, claiming that the fighter jets have been twice used in the Middle East.
“We are flying the F-35 all over the Middle East. It had become part of our operational capabilities. We are the first to attack using the F-35 in the Middle East and have already attacked twice on different fronts,” Israeli air force chief Amikam Norkin said at a conference in Herzilya on Tuesday.
The Israeli Air Force chief, however, did not specify which targets were actually hit by the jets, though Tel Aviv recently launched a massive attack inside war-ravaged neighbor Syria. It has also been blamed for a number of similar attacks, though weaker in scale.
Israel has been “managing a campaign against Iranian forces, especially on Israel’s northern border” for the past two years, Norkin stressed, adding that Iran launched 32 missiles toward Israel in early May.
He also displayed a photo that he said showed one Israeli F-35 over Lebanon’s capital, Beirut.
Manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp, the F-35 is also known as the Joint Strike Fighter and, in Israel, by its Hebrew name “Adir” (Mighty). In December 2016, Israel was the first regime outside the US to obtain the fighter jet when it got the first two planes out of an order of 50. Tel Aviv has at least nine so far.
Norkin said that while the F-35 did not take part in the most recent airstrike on Syria, it did so in the two previous strikes.
It will hardly be the last time Israel uses ultramodern weapons against its neighbors as the Israeli regime has a storied history of airstrikes in the region; over the past few years, the Israeli military has launched sporadic attacks against various targets on Syrian soil. Earlier this month, Israeli jets attacked dozens of targets inside Syria in what some alleged was a provoked attack meant to give greenlight an Israeli airborne incursion into Syria where various Iranian military outposts were attacked.
On May 10, minister of military affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, claimed that Israel had “hit almost all of the Iranian infrastructure in Syria” in response to a barrage of 20 rockets fired at Israeli military outposts in the occupied Golan Heights. However, the Syrian ambassador to China, Imad Moustapha, rejected the Israeli claim that its assault had been directed at Iranian infrastructure.
In February, Israel was furious when the Syrian military hit at least one intruding Israeli F-16 warplane that attacked positions inside Syrian territory, sending it down in flames. The warplane was the first Israeli fighter jet lost in 35 years, since the regime’s war on Lebanon in 1982.
Reports said that the displaying of a photo of the fighter jet flying over Lebanon is considered an implicit threat to the Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah. The Israeli regime has waged three wars on Lebanon — in 1982, 2000, and 2006. It has also carried out assassinations in Lebanese territory.
The Israeli military also frequently bombs the Gaza Strip, where civilians are often collateral damage of such attacks. On May 17, Israeli fighter planes carried out bombing raids on several locations in northern Gaza.
Israel has also launched several wars on the Palestinian coastal sliver, the last of which began in early July 2014. The military operation, which ended on August 26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians. Over 11,100 others were also wounded in the war.