BEIRUT: Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri said Monday his government wants to avoid an escalation with Israel but the international community must reject Israel's "blatant violation" of Lebanese sovereignty.
Two drones crashed Sunday in Beirut suburbs prompting the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement to warn Israeli soldiers at the border to await a response.
"The Lebanese government sees it best to avoid any sliding of the situation towards a dangerous escalation but this requires the international community affirming its rejection of this blatant violation," Hariri told the ambassadors of the UN Security Council's five permanent members, his office said.
Al-Hariri also met Lebanon’s interior and defense ministers and with the army chief on Monday to discuss security issues, his office said.
Meanwhile, President Michel Aoun discussed the “Israeli assault” with the country’s United Nations Special Coordinator Jan Kubis, the president’s office said on Twitter.
A pro-Syrian Palestinian group on Monday accused Israel of carrying out a drone attack on one of its positions in Lebanon, hours after Hezbollah claimed it was targeted by a similar Israeli strike.
A spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), which has close ties with Hezbollah and Syria’s government, said the strike caused only limited material damage.
“It was an Israeli strike with a drone,” spokesman Anwar Raja said.
There were no casualties, he said, as “the position targeted had been evacuated” before the alleged strike.
Lebanon’s state National News Agency (NNA) said “three hostile strikes” after midnight hit near the eastern town of Qusaya “where the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — General Command has military posts.”
“They responded will a barrage of anti-aircraft fire,” it said.
There was no immediate comment from Israel.
Qusaya is only about five kilometers from the Syrian border.
The PFLP-GC has positions in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley as well as in Al-Naaemeh just south of Beirut.
An NNA correspondent also reported on Monday that warplanes belonging to Israel have violated the Lebanese airspace and are currently flying over Marjeioun district at a medium altitude.
In July 2015, a security official said a blast at a PFLP-GC base in Qusaya wounded seven people, while the Palestinian group blamed it on an Israeli strike.
Raja said the latest attack was Israel “saying that it is able to strike the axis of the resistance wherever it wants” referring to anti-Israeli forces like Hezbollah and its ally Iran.
He also denounced the strikes as “provocation” after Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday threatened Israel over what he described as a targeted “drone attack” on his group’s stronghold in the south of Beirut.
“The time when Israeli aircraft come and bombard parts of Lebanon is over,” Nasrallah said.
“I say to the Israeli army along the border, from tonight be ready and wait for us,” he added. “What happened yesterday will not pass.”
Hezbollah, considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States, is a major political actor in Lebanon and also a key backer of the government in war-torn Syria.
The latest incident also came after Israel on Saturday launched strikes in neighboring Syria to prevent what it said was an Iranian attack on the Jewish state.
Nasrallah said the strike in Syria killed two Hezbollah members.
Israel did not confirm the alleged “drone attack” on Hezbollah’s stronghold.
(With Reuters and AFP)