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Israeli military threatened UNIFIL ship

An Indonesian Navy AS565 helicopter hovers over the Turkish corvette Heybeliada as other vessels serving with the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force follow behind during an exercise on 28 July. (Millî Savunma Bakanlığı)

Israeli aircraft threatened a naval vessel assigned to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon's (UNIFIL's) Maritime Task Force in early June, the latest UN report on the mission's performance revealed.

The threatening behaviour began on 6 June, when six Israeli fighter aircraft manoeuvred near the vessel, launching flares and generating supersonic booms. On the following day, six Israeli fighters flew over the same vessel, which “detected the electronic signature of a fire-control radar in lock on mode heading towards it”, according to the report, which was released on 27 July.

The report said the vessel was in the UNIFIL maritime area of operations in the vicinity of the Karish offshore gas field when the incidents occurred.

The field crosses into the expanded exclusive economic zone that Lebanon has claimed since 2011. Israel decided to develop the field before resolving this maritime border dispute, and a floating production, storage, and offloading vessel arrived there on 5 June to start extracting gas.

The report did not identify the vessel that was threatened but said the Maritime Task Force had temporarily been reduced from five to four vessels from March to June.

The fifth vessel has now been replaced, with UNIFIL reporting on 1 August that the task force is currently made up of Bangladeshi corvette Sangram, German corvette Erfurt, Greek frigate Adrias, Indonesian corvette Sultan Iskandar Muda, and Turkish corvette Heybeliada.

The Israel Defense Forces told Janes it was looking into the incident but did not provide an explanation after seven days.

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