Defense Minister Amir Peretz stated Wednesday that that reports that IAF jets had fired shots at a German ship were completely untrue. According to a report, which was initially confirmed by the Defense Ministry in Berlin, two Israeli warplanes and a German navy vessel have clashed off the Lebanese coast.
Germany daily Der Tagesspiegel quoted a junior German Defense Ministry official as telling a parliamentary committee that two Israeli F-16 fighters flew low over the German ship and fired two shots.
The official did not say when the incident happened or what had caused it, the paper said.
"I can confirm that there was an incident," a ministry spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday. An investigation was underway and he therefore was unable to provide further information, he added.
However, shortly after the report was published Peretz spoke with the German defense secretary, Franz Josef Jung, and stressed before him that Israel was not involved in any shooting towards a German vessel, and that there was no intention to carry out such attacks in the future.
Peretz also emphasized the need to enhance cooperation directly vis-à-vis UNIFIL. The two ministers agreed to meet again next week.
The IDF has also stated that contrary to reports, the IAF did not strike any German ship.
Military sources explained that the report was released by the news agencies after Israeli warplanes identified a German ship and a German helicopter off the shores of Rosh Hanikra, and were sent in their direction. The jets were ordered to return shortly after, and while still in Israeli airspace. No shooting towards the vessel had occurred.
Germany assumed command of a United Nations naval force off the coast of Lebanon 10 days ago and has sent a force of eight ships and 1,000 service personnel to join the international peace operation in the region.
The naval force is charged with preventing weapons smuggling and helping maintain a ceasefire between Israel and radical Lebanese-based Islamic group Hizbullah.
Ronny Sofer contributed to the report