U.N.: Air violations by Israel in Lebanon increase
The United Nations Monday expressed deep concern that air violations by Israel across the line of withdrawal in southern Lebanon are continuing and seem to have increased in the past few days.
"Reports indicate that these overflights have taken place in various regions of Lebanon, sometimes at low altitude and over populated areas," leading to sonic booms on several occasions, said a statement issued in Beirut by Staffan de Mistura, Personal Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Southern Lebanon.
According to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), there were six aerial violations of the so-called Blue Line on Sunday, and it appeared that the pattern of avoiding direct flights over the Force’s area of operation and entering Lebanese airspace further north was also continuing.
De Mistura noted that there have been reports of anti-aircraft fire emanating from Lebanon and directed across the Blue Line. "The aerial violations and the response to them create a potential for escalation in an already very tense regional situation," he warned.
The UN envoy also recalled that last Thursday, in a resolution renewing the mandate of UNIFIL, the UN Security Council voiced great concern about the "serious breaches and the air, sea and land violations of the withdrawal line and urged the parties to put an end to these violations."
"The United Nations again calls on all parties to refrain from all further violations, cautions them that such actions serve only to heighten tension and reiterates that one violation does not justify another," he said.
De Mistura said that on Jan. 30, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1461, expressing great concern about the “serious breaches and the air, sea and land violations of the withdrawal line,” urging all sides to end the violations.
For his part, Lebanon's Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Hammoud, urged the United Nations on Monday to shoulder its responsibilities in deterring Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace and sovereignty. Hammoud also instructed the acting head of Lebanon’s permanent mission at the United Nations, Hisham Diab, to notify UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan about the Israeli aerial violations. (Albawaba.com)
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