October 25, 2006 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Two Israeli F-16s were involved in an armed incident last Monday with a German ship patrolling Lebanon's waters as part of the UN force in the Arab country.
A rather impressive sight of an armed IDFAF F-16D block 52
According to Thursday's edition of the Tagesspiegel newspaper, two Israeli F-16 fighters fired shots as well as defensive flares while flying low over the German vessel.
The 'shots' could very well have been sonic booms though. Israel
has a history of using those as a psychological weapon.
In Israel, Defence Minister Amir Peretz denied his country's planes had opened fire near a German ship.
"No Israeli plane opened fire at a German ship and Israel has no intention of attacking the German forces," Peretz said, according to his spokesman.
France and the United Nations this week warned Israel that it was endangering the multinational peace mission in Lebanon by sending its fighter planes into Lebanese airspace.
Police in Lebanon have claimed that there were more Israeli flights over their country on Monday than on any other day since the end of the Jewish state's 34-day war with Hezbollah.
Peretz said at the weekend that the flights through Lebanese airspace would continue because of alleged arms smuggling to Hezbollah since the end of the war on August 14.
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.
Israel's Channel Two television, quoting military sources, described one undated incident where jets had been scrambled when a helicopter took off from a German aircraft carrier close to Israeli waters without identifying itself.
The planes realized the mistake, did not engage the helicopter and returned home, Channel Two said.