In a statement to Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency on Monday, Major General Stefano Del Col, the head of the UN mission, reported a rise in the number of Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace in recent days and said he had asked Tel Aviv to stop such moves.
“The continuous overflights in the Lebanese airspace constitute a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and Lebanese sovereignty, and have previously been condemned by the Security Council,” he said.
Such relentless violations, the UN official added, “lead to an escalation of tensions and can lead to incidents that threaten the cessation of hostilities between Lebanon and Israel. They also go against our goals and undermine our efforts to reduce tensions and create a stable security environment in south Lebanon.”
The Lebanese army and the Hezbollah resistance movement have, in recent months, brought down several intruding Israeli spy drones.
Earlier in the day, the Lebanese army announced in a statement that Israeli military aircraft had crossed into Lebanon’s skies and flown over different parts of the Arab country nine times.
The statement read that the aircraft entered Lebanon’s airspace at around 00:25 a.m. local time on Monday (2125 GMT Sunday) and left at around 20:50 p.m. They hovered over southern Lebanon, Beirut and its suburbs as well as Baabda and Aliya districts.
On September 10, Lebanese military forces intercepted and targeted an Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle as it was on a reconnaissance mission in the skies over the southern part of the country.
The Lebanese army said the drone had been shot down 200 meters away from the Blue Line, which separates Lebanon from the Israeli-occupied territories.
Israel’s military, however, alleged that one of its drones had fallen inside Lebanon during “operational activity” along the frontier.
Lebanon’s government, the Hezbollah resistance movement and the UNIFIL have repeatedly condemned Israel’s overflights, saying they are in clear violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and the country’s sovereignty.
The resolution, which brokered a ceasefire in the war Israel launched against Lebanon in 2006, calls on Tel Aviv to respect Beirut’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Tensions have been running high between Israel and Hezbollah since July 20, when Tel Aviv killed Hezbollah member Ali Kamel Mohsen in an airstrike in Syria.
The Israeli military has placed its forces near the Lebanese and Syrian borders on high alert after Hezbollah promised retaliation.
Israeli forces shelled the Lebanese village of Habaria in late July to stop an alleged Hezbollah offensive, but the Lebanese movement dismissed the allegation, calling it the result of tension and confusion among Israeli forces.
Last month, a leading US news website said the recent developments have “shed light on Israel’s impossible situation” along the Lebanese border.
According to Business Insider, Hezbollah has established a high level of deterrence in southern Lebanon, where as many as “150,000 rockets and missiles” are pointed at Israel.