Monday 24 July 2017

ISRAEL steps up surveillance

David Blair and  Ruth Sherlock in Beirut and Robert Tait in Jerusalem

Israel has sent a dozen jet fighters and reconnaissance planes over Lebanon in the space of 48 hours as fears grow that Hizbollah, the radical Shia militia, could retaliate for any US strike on Syria.

The overflights, condemned by Lebanon's government as violations of UN Resolution 1701, are running at their highest level since 2007. In normal times, one or two Israeli air force jets enter Lebanese airspace every week to monitor Hizbollah and its tens of thousands of Iranian-supplied missiles.

On Friday alone, one Israeli surveillance plane flew over the country, followed by two fighters which proceeded to execute mock attacks, according to a statement from Lebanon's army. Last Thursday, six Israeli fighters carried out a similar exercise over Lebanon. The sharp rise in overflights is an indicator of Israel's concern about the possibility of Hizbollah hitting back for a US attack on Syria.

Most of Israel's population lives within range of Hizbollah's missiles. The militia has sent thousands of fighters to Syria to help President Bashar al-Assad's regime; last week, its leaders warned that they would not stand by in the event of an American campaign.

Meanwhile, 1,000 Israeli reservists have been called up and missile defence batteries deployed to protect Tel Aviv and Haifa. "At present there is no need to change daily routines," said Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.

© Telegraph

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