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Israel May Have Planted Spy Gear in Lebanon: UN


Italian U.N. peacekeepers photograph the site of an explosion between the villages of Meis al-Jabal and Houla in south Lebanon, October 18, 2009. (REUTERS/ Ali Hashisho)

BEIRUT - A U.N. investigation into explosions in south
Lebanon indicated on Sunday that Israel had planted spy devices on
Lebanese land in what a senior U.N. official said would be a violation
of a ceasefire agreement.

The UNIFIL peacekeeping force in Lebanon said its preliminary probe
into two explosions in the south showed they had been caused by the
detonation of underground sensor devices.

The units were apparently buried by Israeli forces during the 2006 war with the Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah, it said.

"These do look like some sort of espionage device," Michael Williams, the U.N. special coordinator for Lebanon, told Reuters.

If confirmed, the devices would represent violations of Security Council resolution 1701 which halted the 34-day war.

A first explosion was reported on Saturday evening and a second on
Sunday morning. No injuries were reported. The devices had been placed
some 2 km inside Lebanese territory between the villages of Houla and
Meiss al-Jabal.

"Preliminary indications are that these explosions were caused by
explosive charges contained in unattended underground sensors which
were placed in this area by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) apparently
during the 2006 war," UNIFIL said in a statement.

UNIFIL was investigating what had caused the devices to blow up. A
Lebanese security official said they appeared to have been detonated by
remote control from Israel after their discovery by Lebanese security

Israel did not respond specifically to the Lebanese assertion. But
an Israeli military statement said Sunday's incident proved Hezbollah's
military presence in south Lebanon, especially in rural Shi'ite areas
along the border with Israel.


UNIFIL said it had protested to the Israeli military about
overflights by drones while the Lebanese army and the peacekeepers were
investigating on the ground. Lebanese army troops opened fire on the
drones with machine gun and small arms fire, the UNIFIL statement said.

Williams said the use of drones was an obvious violation of Lebanese
sovereignty and resolution 1701 "and not particularly helpful at a time
of obvious tension in the south."

UNIFIL is also investigating another incident in south Lebanon last
week at the village of Tayr Filsi, a UNIFIL spokesman said. The
Lebanese army and Hezbollah said one person was wounded when a shell
exploded in the garage of a Hezbollah member in the village on Monday.

Israel has said the blast showed munitions were being stockpiled in
violation of resolution 1701 and has complained to the United Nations
about the incident.

The next report on Security Council resolution 1701 is due to be filed later this month.

The 2006 war broke out after Hezbollah, an anti-Israeli Shi'ite group backed by Iran,
launched a raid into Israel, capturing two soldiers. More than 1,000
people, mostly Lebanese civilians, were killed before the United
Nations brokered a ceasefire.

(Reporting by Tom Perry in Beirut and Jerusalem bureau; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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