Lebanon: French forces close to fire on Israeli jets
French peacekeeping forces in Lebanon have recently came within two seconds of firing missiles at Israeli fighter jets that approached as if to attack them, French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said.
Speaking to the lower house of parliament on Wednesday night, she disclosed this was the latest in a string of incidents in which Israeli warplanes had "adopted a hostile attitude" to French and German forces and said it was "not tolerable".
"A catastrophe was narrowly avoided by our troops," Alliot-Marie said in comments broadcast on RTL radio Thursday. The incident took place on October 31, when a squadron of Israeli F-15 fighter planes nose-dived over French peacekeepers' positions in southern Lebanon, Alliot-Marie told lawmakers.
"In legitimate defense, our soldiers removed the covers from the missile battery and were two seconds away from firing at the planes that were threatening them," the French minister said.
The Lebanese government and the U.N. force have been claiming the Israeli flights violate a U.N. ceasefire resolution. France has repeatedly called on Israel to halt the flights.
"I therefore draw your attention, after having done so at the U.N., to the respect needed for UNIFIL forces and to the risk that irresponsible pilots take by acting this way," Alliot-Marie told lawmakers.