UN envoy voices concern over violations of line marking southern Lebanon

UN envoy voices concern over violations of line marking southern Lebanon

A United Nations envoy today expressed concern over repeated violations of the line marking Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon after a drone was launched into Israeli airspace, and urged all sides to respect the so-called Blue Line.

The latest comments by Staffan de Mistura, the Personal Representative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan for southern Lebanon, came after an unmanned aerial vehicle was launched at approximately 10:30 a.m. yesterday from the Lebanese side of the Blue Line and into Israeli airspace.

The aircraft was reported to have flown over Israeli territory before re-entering southern Lebanon and landing in the vicinity of Naqoura. Later the same day, two Israeli air violations, involving five jets, were recorded. There were no reports of anti-aircraft fire from the Lebanese side.

“All air violations of the Blue Line are an issue of concern,” Mr. de Mistura said in a statement issued from Beirut. He also reiterated the UN’s position that there should be no air violations from any side of the Blue Line and called on all sides to fulfil their obligations to fully respect the marker.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud, Mr. de Mistura said he called on the Government to use its authority to control the territory.

He added that he was waiting for a report from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), the peacekeeping force confirming Israel’s withdrawal from its northern neighbour, before commenting further on the drone’s flight.

“You know our position regarding overflights and we will be reiterating it,” he said. The United Nations “has been saying constantly that overflights should not take place from any source. And we will continue working along this issue both for the sake of the Blue Line and for the sake of the sovereignty of the countries in the region.”