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The number of Israel Air Force violations of civilian aviation lanes and areas has decreased sharply since the beginning of 2007, a senior IAF officer told Haaretz on Sunday.

The officer credited the decrease to harsher disciplinary action. He said that only three IAF planes had violated civilian airspace since the beginning of the year, compared to eight in 2006, 20 in 2005, and 70 in 2004.

As a safety precaution, IAF planes are required to keep a certain distance from the air space used by civil aviation.

According to the officer, any plane that crosses into civilian air space, even during hours in which there is no civil aviation activity, is automatically returned to base, regardless of the type of plane or pilot's rank.