The commanders of the French contingent in UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) have warned that if Israeli warplanes continue their overflights in Lebanon, they may have to open fire on them, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday.

Peretz told members of the committee that despite the warnings, Israel would continue to patrol the skies of Lebanon as such operations were critical for the country's security. Over the past few days, Peretz said, Israel had gathered clear evidence that Syria was transfering arms and ammunition to Lebanon, meaning that the embargo imposed by UN Resolution 1701 was not being completely enforced.

Israel plans to inform the joint committee of representatives of UNIFIL, the Israel Defense Forces and the Lebanese Army that unless the arms transfers are stopped, Israel will be forced to take independent action, Peretz said.

Turning to the situation in the Gaza Strip, Peretz said that Israel could under no circumstances allow the Strip to be turned into a second South Lebanon. According to Peretz, the time when Israel used to check who was sending every missile is over, and the IDF is intent on striking at every terrorist no matter what organization he belongs to.

The defense minister said that the current ground operations underway in the Gaza Strip were much more extensive than before. But, he said, "No one is hankering for ground action deep inside the entire Gaza Strip."