2006-10-25

Israeli Planes Buzz German Navy Ship

Debka:
Conflicting versions released by Germany and Israel of an incident in which two Israeli F-16 warplanes flying low said to have shot two missiles at a German naval vessel off Lebanon. DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources have investigated the incident, which was first disclosed by the German daily Der Tagesspiegel earlier Wednesday, Oct. 25 . They confirm that it did occur and involved six Israel F-16 warplanes and the German navy command ship, the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern F 218 frigate, which leads the UN naval force opposite Lebanon.

Tuesday evening, Oct. 24, Israeli warplanes were flying low over Damour 20 km south of Beirut on their way to gather intelligence of arms smuggling to Hizballah through the Lebanese coast. The European fleet deployed to monitor the coast for arms smuggling cannot get close enough because the ships are not allowed by the Lebanese government to access coastal waters. On their way from west to east, the Israeli F-16s passed low over the German command vessel, releasing infra-red decoys to ward off any rocket attack. This triggered an alert on the German frigate and its crew jumped to battle positions.

At this point, the Israeli and German versions diverge.

The frigate’s officers flashed Berlin a signal that Israeli air force planes had fired two missiles near the ship. Israel denies this. The Israeli defense minister Amir Peretz, who talked by telephone to the German defense minister Franz Josef Jung Wednesday night, insisted the ship’s officers were wrong. The conversation was described as acrimonious. DEBKAfile’s sources in the German capital add that Israel agreed to send over films taken by its warplanes in the course of the episode to convince the Germans that no missiles were fired and expected Berlin to release a notice of clarification on this point.

Jerusalem Post: Germany says the Israelis fired.
Germany claimed on Wednesday that IAF planes flew over a German missile ship that was patrolling off the Lebanese coast and fired a number of shots at the ship.

There was no information on when the incident supposedly occurred.

The IDF was investigating the report.

Arutz Sheva: Defense Minister says they didn't.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Wednesday spoke with German Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung, telling him that reports that IDF fighter planes fired at a German UNIFIL ship in southern Lebanon are simply untrue.

The two are expected to meet in Israel next week. Peretz also told the senior German official that Israel will do what it can to enhance cooperation with the UNIFIL force responsible for monitoring the ceasefire in southern Lebanon.