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Sunday, December 10, 2006

France deploys UAVs to stop IAF flights

France deploys UAVs to stop IAF flights
Yaakov Katz, THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 10, 2006

In an effort to put a stop to Israeli overflights in Lebanon, the French
Armed Forces has deployed an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) squadron in
southern Lebanon to conduct intelligence-gathering missions in place of the

France, a member of UNIFIL, has expressed adamant opposition to IAF
overflights in Lebanon. Last month, OC Planning Division Maj.-Gen. Ido
Nehushtan traveled to Paris for meetings with senior military officials
during which he tried to explain Israel's operational needs. The flights,
the IDF claims, are necessary for gathering intelligence and keeping an eye
on the Lebanese-Syrian border through which weapons are smuggled to the

Angered however from an incident in October during which French soldiers
almost opened fire at an IAF fighter jet, military sources in Paris told The
Jerusalem Post following Nehushtan's visit that they were still opposed to
the overflights and that French soldiers stationed in Lebanon were given the
authority to open fire at Israeli jets if they felt threatened by the

According to Israeli defense sources, the French initiative is also meant to
prove the operational capabilities of its UAVs so they can compete against
Israeli defense industries on the global UAV market.

While welcoming the use of UAVs as part of UNIFIL operations in Lebanon, a
high-ranking officer said Sunday that the IDF would not stop flying over

"We need to allow UNIFIL all of the means it finds essential to perform its
missions," the officer said. "But at the same time, until Hizbullah fulfills
its part of UN resolution 1701 and returns the kidnapped soldiers [Eldad
Regev and Ehud Goldwasser Y.K.] there is no reason for us to completely
fulfill our part of the agreement and stop the overflights."

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