Israeli war planes and German navy clash off Lebanon coast

From Reuters, Oct. 25:

Berlin: IAF jets fire shots over German ship off coast of Lebanon
Two Israel Air Force warplanes and a German navy vessel have clashed off the Lebanese coast, the Defense Ministry in Berlin said on Wednesday without giving further details.

The Germany daily Der Tagesspiegel earlier on Wednesday quoted a junior German defense minister as telling a parliamentary committee that two Israeli F-16 fighters flew low over the German ship and fired two shots.

The jets also activated infra-red countermeasures to ward off any rocket attack, the paper quoted him as saying, in an advance release from Thursday’s edition.

An Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman said she was checking the report.

Germany assumed command of a United Nations naval force off Lebanon 10 days ago, and has sent eight ships and 1,000 service personnel to join the international peace operation in the region.

The naval force is charged with preventing weapons smuggling and helping maintain a ceasefire between Israel and the Lebanese Islamic militant group Hezbollah.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said earlier Wednesday that the IAF would continue to patrol Lebanese skied in an effort to gather information and prevent terror groups from smuggling weapons from Syria into Lebanon.

Peretz raised the issue on the Knesset plenum agenda, saying, “we see ourselves not just as free, but as having the right to continue carrying out these necessary flights, which are part of our challenge against the flow of arms from the area of the Syrian-Lebanese border.

The defense minister added that in light of Israel’s desire to coordinate these efforts with Lebanon, it has reduced the scope of these flights to a minimum. He said the flights were being carried out with precision to avoid friction with United Nations troops and the Lebanese army. He said the flights presented no threat to the peace or security of the international forces deployed in Lebanon.

In response to threats by French forces to open fire on IAF overflights, Peretz said, “we will in no way take these threats, and we’ve made that clear in conversations with all parties.”

The defense minister said that since the end of the war the Hezbollah has been involved with the rehabilitation of the Lebanese infrastructure, has attempted to smuggle weapons through the Lebanese-Syrian border, and has continued to try to harness aid from external sources. Hezbollah had maintained its stronghold in southern Lebanese areas still closed off to UNIFIL and Lebanese forces.

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz denies the incident occurred. The headline in the Jerusalem Post reads, Germany: IAF planes attacked warship off Lebanese coast. Prior to the six-day war in 1967, Israel attacked a US ship, the USS Liberty. Israel claims it mistook the Liberty for an Egyptian ship. See also:

See our last posts on Israel/Palestine and Lebanon.

  1. DPA: Germany confirms

    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

    When Israel intentionally attacked USS LIBERTY off the coast of GAZA some thirty-nine years ago and killed over 160 US military and civilian personnel, the US and Israeli governments covered-up the incident and claimed that the attack was an accident (despite the fact that NSA intercepts proved that the attack was intentional). I very much doubt that the German government would betray its own sailors the way the US government betrayed the Americans who were killed in cold blood. For additional information, visit