Israel airspace disruptions

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Weeks-long disruptions to GPS signals in Israel’s airspace ended, officials said, declining comment on an Army Radio report Russian electronic warfare – possibly from Syria – was to blame.

The disruptions were noted early in June by civilian pilots and confirmed by the Israel Airports Authority (IAA), which said it was under investigation and alternative navigation tools meant there was no safety risk.

An IAA spokesman said the problem was resolved but declined to elaborate on when or how.

Israeli Army Radio said Russian electronic warfare, possibly from neighbouring Syria where Moscow backs Damascus against rebel forces, was the cause. The Russian Embassy in Israel dismissed it as “fake news”.

Zeev Elkin, an Israeli security cabinet minister who has taken part in diplomatic contacts with Russia, was asked whether the Army Radio report was true during an interview.

“I prefer not to answer that,” he told Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM. “There were GPS disruptions. They vanished. That’s what’s important.”

Israel treads carefully in relations with Russia, which mostly turns a blind eye to Israeli air strikes against Iranian-linked targets in Syria.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu played up his personal rapport with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bid to draw votes among Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Elkin said Putin was invited to attend the inauguration of a Jerusalem memorial to Russians killed during Germany’s World War Two siege of Leningrad.

The memorial is expected to be ready in September, Elkin said. He rejected Israeli media speculation the timing was meant to bring Netanyahu a pre-election boost.

“When the Russian president wants to come, he’ll come. If it happens in November or it happens in January – everything is possible,” Elkin said.