United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has reportedly hinted that Israeli artillery deliberately targeted UNIFIL positions in its response to a Hezbollah attack in January that left two Israeli soldiers dead.
Ban had reportedly addressed the incident on Saturday, and was quoted by Lebanon’s An Nahar newspaper as condemning the death of Spanish UNIFIL Cpl. Francisco Javier Soria Toledo, who was killed when an Israeli shell struck the tower he was manning. Ban lamented the fact that “the incident happened at a UNIFIL base, which is known perfectly by Israeli forces.”
While the secretary-general did not clearly place the blame on Israel for the peacekeeper’s death, his choice of words, as well as the findings of a report by the UN’s special coordinator in Lebanon, indicate that the United Nations views Israel as culpable.
Israel’s strike was actually part of the IDF’s wider response to a cross-border attack by Iran’s Shi’ite proxy, which targeted a convoy carrying Israeli troops near the village of Ghajar in the Galilee. Hezbollah operatives fired numerous Kornet antitank missiles at the patrol from almost 4 kilometers inside Lebanon, killing Maj. Yohai Kalangal and St-Sgt. Dor Haim Nini, whose vehicle was traveling two kilometers from the border.
Hezbollah openly took responsibility for the attack, claiming that it was a response to an Israeli strike on January 18th against key figures operating in the Syrian Golan, where Hezbollah is aiding the Assad regime in its fight against rebels and jihadists such as Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida’s Syrian branch.
Jihad Mugniyeh, son of Hezbollah’s deceased strategic mastermind, Imad Mugniyeh, as well as an Iranian general, were killed in the strike.
UNIFIL has more than 10,000 troops in Lebanon after its expansion under a Security Council resolution that halted the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in southern Lebanon. It operates alongside Lebanese troops, who are deployed in the South to keep peace near the frontier with Israel and prevent weapon transfers in an area that is a Hezbollah stronghold.