Lebanese army fires at Israeli jets violating its airspace

Israel Materials 23 April 2008 16:11 (UTC +04:00)

Lebanese troops opened fire Wednesday on Israeli warplanes flying low over southern Lebanon, but no hits were reported, Lebanese officials said.

Soldiers opened fire with machine guns and light anti-aircraft weapons mounted on armoured vehicles at two planes that flew by just east of Marjayoun town near the border at mid-morning, a Lebanese security official said, reported the dpa.

"The Lebanese army's ground anti-aircraft guns confronted the hostile Israeli aircraft during its violation of Lebanese airspace over the regions of Marjayoun and Bint Jbeil, forcing it to leave the area," the army said in a statement.

Israeli warplanes frequently fly over Lebanese airspace in what Israel says are reconnaissance missions.

Wednesday's incident was not the first time that the Lebanese army has fired on the aircraft since an August 14, 2006 ceasefire ended a month-long war between Israeli and Hezbollah guerrillas.

The deployment of about 15,000 Lebanese troops in the south along with some 13,000 United Nations peacekeepers after the UN-brokered ceasefire has not stopped the flyovers despite the UN describing them as a violation of Lebanese sovereignty.

Lebanon has reported an increasing number of overflights in recent months and the incident Wednesday was seen to signal the country's growing impatience with Israel and the inability of the UN to prevent such overflights despite frequent complaints.