Lebanese officials said a dozen Israeli warplanes violated Lebanese airspace on Tuesday and overnight into Wednesday, flying close to the ground in several sorties over southern Lebanon.
According to foreign media reports, the planes attacked a convoy that had crossed into Lebanon from Syria border. One source said the target was a weapon convoy.
The Israeli military had no comment.
A Lebanese army statement says the last of the sorties was at 2 a.m. local time Wednesday. It says four warplanes, which flew in over the southernmost coastal town of Naqoura, flew for several hours over villages in south Lebanon before leaving Lebanese airspace.
It says similar flights by eight other warplanes were conducted Tuesday.
Israel has been deeply concerned that chemical or advanced weaponry from Syria could make its way into the hands of the south-Lebanon based Hezbollah terror group due to the chaos of the Syrian civil war, and has said on several occasions that the transfer of chemical weapons to non-state actors, especially Hezbollah, would be a casus belli.
Reuters cited an unnamed Western diplomat and anonymous security source saying the planes had attacked a target near the border.
“There was definitely a hit in the border area,” the source told the news agency.
The target of the attack was a weapons convoy, French agency AFP reported, citing an unnamed security source.
Among Israeli security officials’ chief fears is that Hezbollah could get its hands on Syrian chemical arms and SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles. If that were to happen, it would change the balance of power in the region and greatly hinder Israel’s ability to conduct air sorties in Lebanon.
Israel believes that Damascus obtained a battery of SA-17s from Russia after an alleged Israeli airstrike in 2007 that destroyed an unfinished Syrian nuclear reactor.
According to news site Al-Monitor, Israel Military Intelligence Chief Aviv Kochavi is in Washington for consultations at the Pentagon, including with Joint Chiefs of Staff head Martin Dempsey.
Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said Sunday that such transfer of arms “would be crossing a line that would demand a different approach.”
The Lebanese army report does not mention if the planes entered Syrian territory, although the area of Lebanon where the flights took place borders southern Syria. The report of the flights was not corroborated by an Israeli source.
Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace are not uncommon but Beirut officials say they have increased in the past few days.
On Tuesday, Air Force chief Amir Eshel said Israel needed to be wary of both conventional and non conventional weapons finding their way out of Syria.
“There is in Syria an enormous arsenal of weapons, some state of the art and some non conventional. All of it could find its way to our borders and not just to our backyards,” he said.
Source: Times Of Israel