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Germany, Israel confirm naval vessel-planes incident

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Wednesday October 25, 2006

Berlin/Beirut/Tel Aviv- Germany and Israel both confirmed Wednesday an incident the previous day involving Israeli aircraft and a German naval vessel patrolling of Lebanon, saying they had been touch as a result. German Defence Ministry spokesman Thomas Raabe said in Berlin that six Israeli F-16 jets had flown very low over the German vessel, stating this happened at 10.11 hours Tuesday.

The planes had given off infra-red decoys and one of the aircraft had fired two shots into the air which had not been specifically aimed.

Raabe said there had been consultations on the issue between the German and Israeli sides at government level, and both sides were interested in maintaining good cooperation.

An Israeli defence ministry spokeswoman confirmed in Tel Aviv that there had been consultations between Israel and Germany.

"Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Amir Peretz talked approximately an hour ago on the telephone with the German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung," the spokeswoman said.

Peretz "clarified that Israel did not fire at any vessel or ship of Germany. The defence minister told his German colleague that Israel has no intention to carry out any aggressive actions opposite the German forces.

"The defence minister stressed the need to his colleague for increased cooperation in the framework of direct coordination mechanisms and in the framework of UNIFIL. The two men will meet in Israel next week."

The statements followed an assertion by a Lebanese security official that Israeli jets fired shots low over the German vessel prompting the German force to go on high alert.

The Lebanese army source said: "Israeli jets provoked the incident and fired shots low over the German vessel prompting the German force to go on high alert."

The United Nations peacekeeping Force in southern Lebanon (UNIFIL) command has warned that Israeli overflights over Lebanon endanger the UN mission.

Israeli jets have intensified over the past few days flights over the country by flying at low altitude and staging mock raids over areas in southern Lebanon and over the capital.

Germany is currently heading the naval force which is monitoring the Lebanese coast to prevent any arms smuggling to the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

Israel has launched a wide-scale offensive against Hezbollah on July 12. The hostilities came to an end after the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1701 on August 14.

The resolution calls for a ceasefire and the deployment of UN troops alongside the Lebanese army to monitor the border with Israel and prevent Hezbollah from launching attacks against the Jewish state.

The resolution also stipulates that a UN Naval force monitor the coast of Lebanon to prevent arms shipment to the Shiite movement.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency