UNIFIL protests about Israeli flights over Lebanon

Date: 11-17-06

BEIRUT (Reuters) - French peacekeepers prepared to fire at two Israeli warplanes flying low over their position in south Lebanon on Friday but did not launch their missiles, a UNIFIL spokesman said.

Milos Struger said that during one of the day's 14 Israeli air violations of Lebanese airspace two F-15s flew low and at high speed over the area of Jabal Maroun where French troops are positioned, while two Israeli drones circled the area.

"UNIFIL anti-aircraft batteries took essential preparatory action to respond in accordance with regulations of self-defense," Struger told Reuters by telephone.

He did not say how close the peacekeepers came to firing at the planes and why they aborted the action.

"UNIFIL strongly protested to Israel over the flights which are unacceptable and in violation of resolution 1701," he said.

Security Council Resolution 1701 ended a 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas in mid-August.

UNIFIL and contributing countries have in recent weeks protested against several similar incidents involving Israeli aircraft and both German navy ships patrolling the Lebanese coast and French forces in south Lebanon.

France said last week it hoped the United States would put pressure on Israel to end its military flights over Lebanon after its forces came very close to firing at Israeli jets flying in an attack mode.

Israel says it will not stop the overflights until it is sure that Hezbollah was not rearming via neighboring Syria.


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