Israeli jets buzz German ship on Lebanon patrol

26th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

26 October 2006, Berlin/Tel Aviv (dpa) - Israel said Thursday that no aggression against German forces was intended during a confrontation between Israeli aircraft and a German naval vessel patrolling off Lebanon. The Israeli embassy in Berlin released a statement from the defence ministry in Tel Aviv, saying the defence ministers of the two countries had discussed Tuesday's incident. The confrontation occurred when Israeli jets scrambled after a helicopter took off from a German frigate serving with a Uni

26 October 2006

Berlin/Tel Aviv (dpa) - Israel said Thursday that no aggression against German forces was intended during a confrontation between Israeli aircraft and a German naval vessel patrolling off Lebanon.

The Israeli embassy in Berlin released a statement from the defence ministry in Tel Aviv, saying the defence ministers of the two countries had discussed Tuesday's incident.

The confrontation occurred when Israeli jets scrambled after a helicopter took off from a German frigate serving with a United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) task force.

German Defence Ministry spokesman Thomas Raabe said six Israeli F- 16s had flown very low over the German vessel and one of them fired two shots into the air.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the helicopter took off without having coordinated this with Israel. As a result, Israel sent fighter jets into the air which forced the helicopter to return to the vessel and land back onto it.

The military however denied having fired any shots in the incident, which happened near the border with Lebanon close to the border town of Rosh Ha'Nikra.

Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz telephoned his German counterpart Franz Josef Jung Wednesday night to explain the incident, officials from both sides said, stressing a desire to maintain good cooperation.

Jung is due to pay a visit to Israel next week, but Tuesday's incident is not expected to cast a cloud over the talks, diplomats said.

The German vessels are overseeing an arms embargo against the militant Shiite Hezbollah movement, following an August 14 ceasefire that ended 33 days of fighting between Israel and the Lebanese group.

Israeli jets over the past few days have intensified their activity over Lebanon by flying at low altitude and staging mock raids over areas in south and the capital, Beirut.

Such incidents are not considered serious in Israel, but UNIFIL's command has warned that the overflights over Lebanon endanger the UN mission.

French UNIFIL commander Alain Pellegrini has reportedly asked the United Nations to provide his force with air defence artillery as protection against Israeli warplanes.

In another incident, a French patrol was forced to go on alarm stations early October after Israeli warplanes approached close to it and refused to respond to radio messages, Israeli reports said.

In a related issue, the German defence ministry denied a report in Thursday's Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper claiming that the rules of engagement for the task force had been changed, restricting the scope of its operations.

Israel launched a wide-scale offensive against Hezbollah on July 12 after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid and killed five others. The hostilities came to an end one month later after the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1701.

The resolution calls for a ceasefire and the deployment of UN troops alongside the Lebanese army along the border with Israel.

DPA

Subject: German news

0 Comments To This Article