Lebanese President: Israeli attacks are a declaration of war

Michel Aoun referred to alleged Israeli drone attacks on Beirut and Qusaya.

T-Heron drone from the IAF (photo credit: IAI)
T-Heron drone from the IAF
(photo credit: IAI)
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun called the alleged Israeli drone attacks on the capital of Beirut and in the Qusaya a “declaration of war” on Monday.
“The attacks on Dahiyeh and the Qusaya region violate (U.N. Security Council) Resolution 1701, and its stipulations that bind Lebanon should also be binding for Israel,” Aoun told U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis during a meeting.
“What happened resembles a declaration of war that entitles us to resort to our right to defend our sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,” Aoun continued, adding that “We are people who seek peace, not war, but we do not accept to be threatened by anyone in any manner.”
Aoun’s comments came after Israel was alleged to have struck a base belonging to a Palestinian terrorist group in Lebanon’s Bekaa near the border with Syria early Monday.
"Three hostile strikes" hit Lebanon's eastern mountains near Qusaya after midnight "where the PFLP-GC has military posts,” Lebanon's state-run National News Agency said, adding that "they responded with a barrage of anti-aircraft fire.
According to the report, the strikes caused material damage and no casualties.
Videos posted on social media showed explosions as well as by heavy anti-aircraft fire by militants.
The PFLP-GC split from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in 1968, claiming it wanted to focus more on resistance and less on politics. Led by Ahmad Jibril, a former captain in the Syrian Army, the PFLP-GC is closely tied to both Syria and Iran. While it’s political leadership is headquartered in Damascus, it has bases in southern Lebanon, in Palestinian refugee camps and a small presence in the Gaza Strip.
It has carried out dozens of deadly attacks since it’s split, most recently in December 2015, when the group fired three rockets from Lebanon towards northern Israel.
The alleged Israeli airstrike came amid heightened tensions on Israel’s northern borders.
It came just hours after Israel struck an Iranian drone team in Syria killing two Hezbollah militants and one Iranian and after two alleged Israeli drones crashed in Lebanon’s capital of Beirut, drawing threats by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah that the organization would retaliate.
“What happened in Syria and Lebanon last night is very, very dangerous,” Nasrallah said in a speech Sunday night, adding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “would be mistaken if he thinks that this issue can go unnoticed.
“The time at which Israeli war jets used to strike targets in Lebanon while the usurping entity in Palestine kept safe has ended,” Nasrallah continued. “From tonight, I tell the Israeli army on the border, wait for our response, which may take place at any time on the border and beyond the border. Be prepared and wait for us.”
Netanyahu meanwhile warned neighboring countries that they would be responsible for any attack targeting Israel from their territory.
“We won’t tolerate attacks on Israel from any country in the area. Any country that allows its territory to be used for attacks against Israel will bear the consequences. I stress: The state will bear the consequences,” he said during a tour of the Golan Heights with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York that the government of Lebanon had sent a letter of complaint on the incident in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley. “This is the time to reiterate our appeal to all concerned to cease violations of Resolution 1701 and to implement all of tis provisions,” Dujarric said.
The UN calls “on the parties to exercise maximum restraint both in action and in rhetoric,” he said adding that the “Middle East region can’t afford any more turmoil.”