IDF: Lebanon Recon Flights Will Go On

Amos Harel Reuters
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Amos Harel Reuters

The Israel Defense Forces yesterday denied reports that it had stopped reconnaissance overflights of Lebanon.

Military sources said the flights will continue over Lebanon because they are necessary to collect intelligence so long as UN Security Council Resolution 1701 is still not being implemented by Lebanon.

Israel is demanding that the government of Lebanon initiate an effective inspection regime along its border with Syria to prevent the smuggling of weapons for Hezbollah.

Israel maintains that the resolution that brought an end to the fighting will not be completely implemented until the two IDF soldiers abducted by Hezbollah are returned.

The French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said yesterday that Israel had paused its flights over Lebanon for 48-hours. She also said Israeli air incursions were "extremely dangerous" and should stop.

The French commander of the UN force in southern Lebanon has warned that peacekeepers may resort to force to prevent the Israeli overflights. This would require the UN to rewrite the rules of engagement for its troops, Alain Pellegrini said. UN officials said no such move was under way.

Alliot-Marie said the French peacekeeping contingent in southern Lebanon, while equipped with anti-aircraft missiles, could use these weapons only in self-defense. But an Israeli aircraft might mistakenly be seen as having a hostile intent, possibly triggering "a very serious incident," she said.