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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Full account of alleged shooting incident with German ship

DEBKAfile has what purports to be a full account of the alleged shooting incident between an Israeli warplane and a German battleship. Here are the key points:
1. The European fleet deployed to monitor the coast for arms smuggling cannot get close enough because the ships are not allowed by the Lebanese government to access coastal waters.

2. DEBKAfile’s sources in the German capital add that Israel agreed to send over films taken by its warplanes in the course of the episode to convince the Germans that no missiles were fired and expected Berlin to release a notice of clarification on this point.

3. DEBKAfile’s military experts say that a clash between Israeli air force and UN naval units was bound to happen. The original fault rested with the Israeli government’s acceptance of the clause in UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which denies UNIFIL authority to intercept arms smuggling into Lebanon or armed entry to the south without formal Lebanese government permission. Such permission is routinely vetoed by Hezbullah ministers. (Did anyone ever believe that it would not be vetoed?).

4. In the absence of UNIFIL counter-action, Israel informed Washington, the UN in New York, Unifil commanders and the European governments - which deployed forces in Lebanon - that its air force would be obliged to carry out low passes over the smuggling routes for as long as the UN failed to police them. This was not accepted. The French president and defense minister last week threatened to fire at Israeli planes flying over Lebanon. No one expected the first incident between Israeli warplanes and the UN force to involve a German warship.
The real question is, when will Israel do something to stop the arms smuggling? So far as I can tell, all we are doing is observing it. Observing it will not stop it.


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