Wed Feb 21, 4:34 AM ET


BEIRUT (Reuters) – Israeli warplanes flew at a low altitude over large areas of southern Lebanon on Wednesday, witnesses said.

U.N. peacekeepers and Lebanon say Israeli overflights violate Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended the July-August war between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas.

Israeli warplanes regularly fly over south Lebanon but witnesses said Wednesday’s flights, seen from the Bekaa Valley and the southern city of Sidon were unusually frequent and at a lower altitude than usual.

Earlier this month the outgoing commander of the U.N. peacekeepers said Israeli warplanes were still flying over southern Lebanon on a daily basis despite appeals for them to halt the missions.

Israel says its combat planes will continue to fly over Lebanon to ensure that weapons are not smuggled into southern Lebanon from Syria to resupply Hezbollah.

This week a top Israeli intelligence analyst said Hezbollah is replenishing rockets launched or destroyed during their war with Israel last year and will soon have a more powerful arsenal than before.

Israeli air raids during the war destroyed large districts of the Hezbollah stronghold southern suburbs in Beirut and several towns and villages in south Lebanon.