Israel Confirms IDF Fire Killed Spanish Soldier

UNIFIL peacekeeper killed in gunbattle with Hezbollah died from Israeli fire, security source says; IDF working to avoid future incidents.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Secure borders?
Secure borders?

Israeli security sources acknowledged on Tuesday that the death of a Spanish UN peacekeeper in Lebanon fighting in January was caused by Israeli fire.  

"The Spanish soldier was indeed killed by Israel Defense Forces artillery, following a Hezbollah attack on IDF (army) forces that killed two soldiers," a source said on condition of anonymity.

A military statement in response to a query by AFP described the shelling of the UN post near Lebanon's border with Israel as "an unfortunate event".  

"There was never any intention of harming United Nations forces," it said. "The IDF is operating in order to prevent similar incidents in the future."

The statement said that a "thorough" military investigation had been carried out and the results passed on to the Spanish army.  

Spain and Israel had agreed on  a joint probe into the January 28 death of 36-year-old Corporal Javier Soria Toledo.

The 10,000-strong United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) includes some 600 Spanish soldiers and troops from 35 other nations.

Israel and Lebanon are still technically at war, despite the fact that the last major conflict between the countries - or more accurately, between Hezbollah and Israel - took place in 2006.

Spain's El Pais newspaper on Sunday published what it said were extracts from the confidential Spanish military report, citing soldiers who said they appeared to have been deliberately targeted.

The paper, however, also quoted a UN report which said that a few minutes before the shelling began Israel had warned the UN peacekeepers not to venture outside their post, without giving an explanation.

Over the following two hours nearly 120 artillery shells, 90 mortar grenades and five projectiles were fired in the area, El Pais quoted the report as saying.

The clashes began when Hezbollah fired an anti-tank missile at a military convoy along the border area, killing two IDF soldiers - Major Yochai Kalangel and Sgt. Dor Nini - and prompting Israel to respond with air and ground strikes.

The 10,000-strong UNIFIL mission said at the time that it had observed six rockets fired towards Israel from southern Lebanon and that Israeli forces "returned artillery fire in the same general area."