BEIRUT (AFP) – Lebanese anti-aircraft guns opened fire on four Israeli warplanes which were violating its airspace at low altitude on Sunday, the military said.
“The army’s anti-aircraft guns fired at four Israeli warplanes overflying southern Lebanon, Hasbaya, the Shouf and the Bekaa,” all in southeastern Lebanon, an army statement said.
The incident came amid heightened concern in Lebanon over recent Israeli threats against Shiite militant party Hezbollah and its backer Syria.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri described Israeli military activity as “escalating” and “really dangerous” in a BBC interview broadcast Wednesday.
“During the past two months, every day we have Israeli planes entering Lebanese airspace,” Hariri said.
Israeli officials have warned repeatedly in recent weeks that any attack by Hezbollah will spark a tough response, and have been locked in a war of words with Syrian leaders.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to ease tensions, saying Israel wants peace with all of its neighbours.
But earlier this month Netanyahu accused Beirut of allowing Hezbollah to smuggle weapons into Lebanon in “blatant violation” of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended a 2006 war between Israel and the Shiite party.
Israel’s regular overflights into southern Lebanon, a Hezbollah stronghold, are also a breach of Resolution 1701.
But Israel argues the overflights are necessary to monitor what it claims is massive arms smuggling by Hezbollah.
While Lebanon’s army publishes almost daily reports of Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace, the military rarely opens fire unless the planes fly within range of its guns.