An Israeli investigator has confirmed that it was Israeli fire that accidentally killed a Spanish peacekeeper with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in January during a shootout with Hezbollah.
Corporal Francisco Javier Soria Toledano died after being hit in a barrage aimed at Hezbollah by Israel. The force missed and struck the UNIFIL soldier instead.
The gunfire followed an unprovoked cross-border attack with anti-tank missiles fired by Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon at Israeli military personnel and civilians about seven kilometers from the border, inside Israel. Two Israeli soldiers were killed instantly and several other people were seriously wounded. A civilian home in a nearby Druze village was destroyed in the multi-pronged attack as well.
Nevertheless, Spain’s UN ambassador blamed Israel, and the United Nations Security Council was persuaded to condemn the killing of the UNIFIL soldier, implying his death was caused by Israel alone even though that was obviously not the case.
It was the most serious exchange of gunfire between Israel and Hezbollah since the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a point of warning Hezbollah’s secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah on public media to “look at Gaza” before he considered his next step and decided whether to proceed with more violence or to cease the attacks.
According to a UN diplomat, Israel has submitted an apology privately to Spain, but there has been no public admission of responsibility. Jerusalem has made it clear the death was accidental, resulting from the deliberate attack on Israel by Hezbollah.Hana Levi Julian