'Psychological War': Photo of Israeli Jet Over Beirut Draws Lebanese Anger

A photo of an Israeli fighter jet flying over Beirut has drawn angry reactions and criticism within Lebanon.

"This is Israel playing a psychological side of the war," General Mouawad Tannous, a former Lebanese military intelligence officer and former defense attaché with Lebanon's Embassy in Washington D.C. told The Independent. "Israel is flaunting its power, and showing to all its high military superiority."

Israeli air force commander Major General Amikam Norkin showed the high-quality photo of a U.S.-made F-35 hovering over Beirut during a presentation at an international security conference last week. During the presentation, he said he believed Israel is "the first to attack with the F-35 in the Middle East."

Since then, the image has circulated on social media.

Here is the leaked picture of #Israel’s #F35 Adir flying over #Lebanon’s capital of #Beirut. This picture was shown by #IAF Commander Maj-Gen Amikam Norkin yesterday when he announced Israel was the 1rst to carry out combat missions in the Middle East with the stealth fighter pic.twitter.com/gwSrJtK4Sm

— Anna Ahronheim (@AAhronheim) May 23, 2018

Tensions between Israel and Lebanon occasionally run high along the border between the two nations. The Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah, which the United States classifies as a terrorist organization, and Israeli officials regularly exchange fiery rhetoric and threats. Tensions sometimes escalate, with Iran-backed Hezbollah firing rockets across the border and Israel responding militarily.

Tannous said that Norkin has "taken heat for revealing the F-35 in such a clear photo, showing four radars, with two reflectors on each side." This means the aircraft was not flying in stealth mode.

Although it's unclear when the photo was taken, Lebanon has accused Israel's military of violating its airspace on multiple occasions, as have U.N. peacekeeping forces stationed at the border between the two countries. On Monday, in what The Times of Israel called "a rare face-off," Russian jets reportedly challenged Israeli jets flying over Lebanon. Neither side has officially confirmed the reports.

In recent months, Israel has launched several airstrikes in Syria, attacking Hezbollah, Iranian and regime targets. Following some of these attacks, Lebanese officials claimed Israel illegally used its airspace. Last September, Lebanon said it would officially complain to the U.N. over such violations, Reuters reported.

At the time, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said his country would issue a complaint "against Israel for planting spy devices on Lebanese land and continuously breaching" its airspace.