Analysis of the Hezbollah UAV footage over Haifa from June 18

On June 18, Hezbollah released a 10-minute video showing an aerial reconnaissance sortie carried out by a UAV over the Haifa Bay area. The video shows several locations, including the Rafael complex, the civilian and military ports of Haifa, Haifa Airport, and sections of the Krayot cities. Hezbollah carefully analyzed the material throughout the film, identifying and pinpointing important potential targets and locations.

Is it possible to determine when the video was taken?

First, it is important to note that Hezbollah wishes to present the video as having been filmed during one continuous sortie. Hezbollah used a similar approach when it presented other attacks in the past, such as attacks on the Tal Shamaim site, Iron Dome batteries in Beit Hillel and Kfar Blum, attacks on a military site using suicide UAVs, and others.
This is part of their psychological warfare effort aimed at sowing fear among the Israeli public with their threats on civilians. It can also be assumed that it was done to show Israeli decision-makers that Hezbollah is monitoring sensitive sites within Israel and that they are capable of hitting them in the event of war.

However, there is no certainty that the video was filmed during a single sortie. Although the entire video was filmed in daytime, an analysis of the cast shadows shows that there are differences between relatively close sites, indicating that they were filmed at different times. While the shadow in certain areas appears to imply that the footage was shot in the early morning, others seem to have been filmed in the afternoon and others near sunset.

Furthermore, it is highly improbable that the defensive systems, including those shown in the video, would fail to identify a UAV for an extended period and throughout an extensive region. (This analysis was done before the IDF’s clarification regarding the identification of the UAVs and the decision not to intercept one of them).

There is also doubt regarding the timeliness of the footage and whether all of them were taken in recent weeks.
An indicator that the film may not be entirely current is the presence of green foliage in many areas of the video. This could indicate that some of the photography was taken before the heatwaves in recent weeks.
Further substantial evidence is also acquired in relation to the photography of Haifa Airport. The runway at the airport underwent renovation and re-stratification over the past month (starting at the end of May). The condition of the runway in the video, as well as the fact that no construction tools are visible in its vicinity, indicate that it was carried out before the renovation.

Another point concerns the photography of the port. The civilian port is almost completely empty of ships and containers, unlike prior to the war. This indicates that the footage is not relatively old. In addition, a photograph of the military port apparently shows the Navy’s new landing craft – INS Komemiyut – which docked in Haifa Port on 16 June 2024.

Another issue pertains to the time of the filming. As previously said, the video was recorded during the daytime. When analyzing patterns of life from the footage, there is a noticeable absence of vehicles on the roadways while bus movement is visible. These facts are applicable for recording photographs during the early morning as well as in the afternoon on weekends or vacations.

Evidence of this may be discovered in the video showing the airport control tower parking lot, where just one vehicle is visible. Considering the airport’s operating hours and staffing regulations, this suggests the notion that the segment featuring the airport was likely recorded either in the early morning on a weekday or in the early evening on a Friday or the eve of a holiday.

The Haifa Port footage also shows that the sun has set, indicating photography in the early evening.

Regarding the IDF’s spokesperson, UAV interceptions that match this analysis occurred several times in the past two weeks. On the evening of June 1st there was a UAV interception off the coast of Acre. On June 10th two UAVs were intercepted off the coast of Nahariya around noon. On June 11th (on the eve of Shavuot), there was an alarm in Haifa and interceptor being launched, and on June 17th, a UAV was intercepted off the coast of Acre.

In conclusion, it appears that the footage in the video was taken between early April (the beginning of daylight-saving time) and mid-June. In our assessment, it is not at all certain that the video was filmed during one sortie, but rather several sorties, one of which was carried out during the past 72 hours.

 If true, this shows the significant challenge posed by Hezbollah’s UAVs to Israel’s defense systems.

In addition, it should be noted that this video is only the first of a series of videos that Hezbollah intends to present, which it claims contains footage from sites deeper into Israel.

Regarding the UAV utilized to capture the footage, there is currently a lack of available information. Hezbollah has acknowledged that the UAV in question belongs to the “Hudhud” series. However, they have not disclosed any other details, and its usage by Hezbollah remains unknown at this time.

Iran possesses a diverse range of UAVs that can execute such a mission. It is reasonable to infer that Hezbollah has access to a substantial number of these UAVs.

One potential contender is the Iranian Hudhud-1 UAV. This UAV is of modest size, measuring 1.9×1.5 meters, and is primarily employed for reconnaissance and photographic purposes. The operational radius of the aircraft is limited to a few dozen kilometers, and it has a flight duration of around one and a half hours.

Another option is the Shahed 101. The UAV mentioned here is used by the Shiite militias in Iraq and is claimed to have been deployed many times against Israel. Hezbollah also has these UAVs, and we have observed video evidence of a Shahed 101 equipped with an electric motor, specifically designed to enhance its stealth capabilities and make it harder to detect. This UAV has the capability to sustain flight for extended periods. Moreover, Hezbollah has lately provided evidence of its use in carrying out strikes.

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Boaz Shapira

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