Berlin/Beirut/Tel Aviv, Germany and Israel both confirmed a confrontation between Israeli aircraft and a German naval vessel patrolling off Lebanon, but the two sides disagreed over whether shots had been fired.
German Defence Ministry spokesman Thomas Raabe said Wednesday in Berlin that six Israeli F-16 jets had flown very low over the German vessel Tuesday morning.
He said the planes had given off infrared decoys and one of the aircraft had fired two shots into the air, which had not been specifically aimed.
An Israeli army spokesperson said a German helicopter took off from a German vessel near the Israel-Lebanon border without having coordinated this with Israel. As a result, Israel sent fighter jets into the air, which forced the helicopter to return to the vessel and land back onto it.
The military however vehemently denied having fired any shots at the vessel and said 'as of now' it also had no knowledge of the jets launching flares over it.
The incident happened off Israel's coast, just south of the border with Lebanon, opposite the border town of Rosh Ha'Nikra, the spokesperson said.
Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz telephoned his German counterpart Franz Josef Jung Wednesday night to explain the incident, an Israeli defence ministry spokesperson said.
Peretz 'clarified that Israel did not fire at any vessel or ship of Germany,' the Israeli spokesperson said, adding that Peretz told Jung 'Israel has no intention to carry out any aggressive actions' against the German peacekeeping forces in Lebanon.
The German vessels are part of the strengthened UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which is enforcing an Aug 14 ceasefire that ended 33 days of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militias.
The German defence ministry official confirmed there had been consultations over the incident between the German and Israeli sides at government level and both sides were interested in maintaining good cooperation.
Israel, too, called for improved cooperation between the sides.
Yahoo News India