A senior United Nations envoy today expressed serious concern at continuing Israeli over-flights of Lebanon, especially intensive mock air raids over Beirut this morning, calling them a breach of the Security Council resolution 1701, which ended this summer’s conflict with Hizbollah.
“The United Nations commends the efforts of all sides in implementing resolution 1701 over the 10 weeks since its adoption,” a UN spokesperson in New York, quoting Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Personal Representative for Lebanon Geir Pedersen said. “It renews its call on Israel to cease its violations of Lebanese sovereignty and calls on all parties to respect and implement resolution 1701.”
The statement came just a day after Mr. Annan’s latest report to the Council on Lebanon, in which he noted that Israeli over-flights have continued since the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah on 14 August. He also said disarming Hizbollah was a “key element” in ensuring a permanent end to hostilities.
“Mr. Pedersen is particularly disturbed by the intensive mock air raids that took place over Beirut this morning,” spokesperson Marie Okabe said. “The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has reported some eight air violations over the past two days, which they have observed over their area of operation.”
Resolution 1701 mandated strengthening UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops, though Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Alain Pellegrini has said 10,000 might be sufficient. At present the force has 7,200 troops on the ground. Its naval unit became operational earlier this month, monitoring Lebanon’s territorial waters and the coastline to prevent arms smuggling.