BEIRUT: UNIFIL urged Israel Tuesday to halt military air patrols over Lebanon after recent raids destined for Syrian targets heightened regional tensions and were condemned by rival Lebanese parties. U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said UNIFIL complained after recording a surge in Israeli flights over Lebanon. “In the course of the past week [UNIFIL] has observed a higher number of Israeli air violations over Lebanese airspace,” he told a briefing. He called the overflights a “violation of Lebanese sovereignty and of Security Council Resolution 1701,” which helped end Israel’s military incursion into southern Lebanon in 2006. The two predawn air raids in Syria by Israeli warplanes Friday and Sunday destroyed missiles apparently destined for Hezbollah. Israeli jets carried out intense flights over Lebanon shortly before and after the airstrikes. Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour told The Daily Star that Lebanon filed a complaint over Israel’s repeated violations of sovereignty. “We
informed the U.N. Security Council of Israel’s land, air and maritime violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty which contravenes U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701,” Mansour said. Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati slammed Israel’s attack, saying it further heightened regional tensions. “[Lebanon] condemns Israel’s violation of Lebanese airspace in order to carry out an aggression against Syria such as what happened days ago in a bid to inflame the already tense situation in the region,” Mikati said. His comments came after meetings with ambassadors from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member countries, as well as U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly. Sheikh Naim Qassem, Hezbollah deputy-secretary general, said the attacks were aimed at boosting the morale of Syrian rebels. “An aggression by Israel against Syria ... means that Syria is an obstacle facing Israel and has shown steadfastness in confronting it,” Qassem said during a ceremony in Beirut’s southern
suburbs. “The bombing was an attempt to boost the morale of terrorists and takfiris who are fighting to destroy Syria from the inside.” The Future bloc of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri condemned the aggression and called on the Arab League and the U.N. Security Council to deter Israel from carrying out further attacks. “The bloc condemns the Israeli aggression on areas in Syria under whatever pretexts used by Israel. ... Thus, the bloc calls on the Arab League to convene quickly and the U.N. Security Council to intervene to deter Israel and end its aggression,” said a statement by the bloc after its weekly meeting. Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun said that Israel’s attack amounted to a declaration of war and questioned the U.N.’s response to the repeated violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty, while Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt warned that the attacks would be exploited by Damascus. “We denounce and condemn the Israeli attack on Syria which further
complicates the crisis there,” Jumblatt said in his weekly editorial in the party’s electronic newspaper Al-Anbaa. “Such attacks provide a new pretext for the Syrian regime to accuse the opposition of collaboration [with Israel], an allegation it has always used in accusing its opponents of treachery.” President Michel Sleiman Monday strongly condemned Israel’s airstrike and its use of Lebanon’s airspace, urging the international community and the Security Council to force Israel to comply with international resolutions.