Mysterious GPS disruptions wreak havoc on Israeli air traffic

Planes traveling to Israel unable to land via normal route amid GPS jamming from outside the country.

By World Israel News Staff

The body responsible for Israel’s main international airport quietly admitted that the GPS systems of numerous planes bound for the Jewish state have been “disrupted” by “unknown forces” in recent months.

According to Mako, residents of the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council complained to the Israel Airports Authority (IAA) after suffering from the “deafening” noise of airplanes passing at extremely low altitudes over their homes.

The residents noted these unusual patterns, as planes do not typically pass over their communities on their way to Ben Gurion Airport.

The IAA responded in a letter to the council, revealing that “in recent months, planes bound for Israel have experienced incessant GPS interference, probably [originating] from forces outside of the country.”

The letter added that “these interferences almost completely prevent the ability to carry out the [normal] landing procedures,” forcing the planes to reroute over the Mateh Binyamin region.

Mako reported that a likely source of the GPS disruptions are Russian air defenses operating in Syria, though Israel’s security and intelligence agencies have not ruled out the issue stemming from a different source.

In 2022, Hebrew-language media reported that GPS jamming by Russian forces in Syria – aimed at protecting troops and assets from drone strikes – had affected much of the eastern Mediterranean, including Ben Gurion Airport.

In June 2019, the IAA complained that GPS disruption had “significant impact on all aspects of operating a plane from the cockpit, as well as on managing air traffic,” though it noted that flights to and from Ben Gurion had continued as normal.

At the time, the Israeli Pilots Association said the sophisticated degree of disruption suggested the involvement of a state actor.

“This type of blocking requires great technical knowledge and high mechanical capability, which is not possessed by individuals or organizations,” the association wrote on Twitter.