US calls for reduction of tensions as its regional ally stages Mock air raids
By Patrick Galey
Saturday, August 07, 2010
BEIRUT: Israel continued to conduct mock air raids in the skies over Lebanon on Friday as the world awaited the findings of a United Nations investigation into the clash that killed four people along the Blue Line.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said that while results from a preliminary probe into Tuesday’s shootout between Lebanese and Israeli Army troops had been collected, its investigation was yet to ascertain which side was responsible for the pair’s bloodiest clash since 2006.
“We are still getting the facts from being on the ground. Of course, the issue is very sensitive and all the details need to be carefully investigated,” UNIFIL Deputy Spokesperson Andrea Tenenti told The Daily Star. “The investigation will be done with all parties … as quickly as possible, but the priority is to be as detailed as possible.”
Outgoing United States Ambassador to Lebanon Michelle Sison, in a farewell statement bidding goodbye to President Michel Sleiman, called on both Israel and Lebanon to exercise restraint.
“As we saw earlier this week, regional tensions can threaten Lebanon’s continuing stability,” Sison said.
“We regret the loss of life on both sides. This terrible and tragic event reminds us once again that we must all work for progress toward the permanent ceasefire that [Resolution] 1701 demands.
“The United States continues to call on all parties to work to diminish these tensions,” the outgoing ambassador added.
Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) reported that Israeli jets flew over several areas of the country, following up the mock air raids it conducted on Wednesday.
“Israeli warplanes have been executing mock intensive air raids in Nabatieh, Iqlim al-Toufah, Marjayoun and Khiam airspace at a medium altitude since Friday morning,” the NNA said. In addition, southern towns of Tyre, Hasbaya and Bint Jbeil also experienced flyovers and dummy attacks.
The latest Israeli violations of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 – which stipulates that Lebanese sovereign territory not be breached – comes after two Lebanese troops and a journalist, as well as a senior Israeli soldier were killed along the Blue Line close to Adeisseh on Tuesday.
Crowley was speaking in response to an interview by Congressman Ron Klein, given to The Jerusalem Post, in which he said that US military aid to Beirut was up for discussion.
Klein, who sits on the US Foreign Affairs Committee, told the newspaper that the issue of US funding to Lebanon was “certainly is going to come up in our conversations in the Congress.”
“To start shooting as they did – one person killed, one seriously injured – is a very serious move by the Lebanese Army,” he added.
Crowley was quick to quell the idea that US money would be diverted from Lebanon if the army started targeting Israel.
“We provide support to Lebanon because it is in our interest to do so. We do so in close cooperation with the international community for the express purpose of improving Lebanon – the Government of Lebanon’s security capability, protecting its sovereignty, and contributing to broad security across the region,” he said.
“We think improving the capability and performance of the Lebanese Government, both across the government, but including in the security sector, contributes to stability in the region and is in our interest,” Crowley added.