France criticizes Israel on Lebanon overflights

1st November 2006, Comments 0 comments

BEIRUT, Oct 31, 2006 (AFP) - Israeli warplanes carried out intensive mock air raids at low altitude over Beirut and south Lebanon Tuesday despite mounting international pressure to respect an August ceasefire.

BEIRUT, Oct 31, 2006 (AFP) - Israeli warplanes carried out intensive mock air raids at low altitude over Beirut and south Lebanon Tuesday despite mounting international pressure to respect an August ceasefire.

Both the United Nations and France, which commands the UN peacekeeping force overseeing the Security Council truce resolution, called on Israel to halt the overflights which they said were a violation of its provisions.

The overflights began in early morning, concentrated over the capital's impoverished Shiite southern suburbs that were devastated by Israel's summer war with Hezbollah, and lasted around 45 minutes.

In the south, where the French-commanded peacekeeping force is policing the ceasefire resolution that came into force on August 14, the warplanes also carried out low-altitude mock raids, police said.

A number of aircraft also made sonic booms over the southern port city of Tyre, an AFP correspondent reported.

An Israeli military spokesman in Tel Aviv declined to comment on the continuing overflights. "We do not elaborate on operational activity," he said.

A statement released in the name of the UN special envoy condemned the persistent violations of Lebanese air space.

"Geir Pedersen expresses his serious concern at the continuing overflights by Israel which constitute a breach of Lebanese sovereignty and specifically of Security Council Resolution 1701," it said.

"The UN Interim Force in Lebanon has reported some eight air violations over the past two days which they have observed over their area of operation."

France too spoke out against the overflights.

"We consider them contrary to the spirit and the letter of Resolution 1701," a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz has insisted that the overflights will continue until the Shiite militants of Hezbollah halt what he says is arrant arms smuggling in defiance of the UN truce resolution.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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