The United Nations Security Council released a statement late Monday condemning the shooting death of an Israeli soldier near the border fence with Lebanon.
The 15-member body said that a UN investigation confirmed that a Lebanese soldier had acted on his own volition and opened fire at an IDF non-commissioned officer who was in his vehicle at the time the shots were fired.
The Council said it was "a serious contravention of the existing operational rules and procedures as related to resolution 1701," a reference to the resolution which effectively ended the Second Lebanon War between Israel and Hezbollah in August 2006.
A day after an IDF soldier was killed
by cross-border gunfire from Lebanon, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that Israel holds the Lebanese government and army responsible for such incidents, which will not be tolerated.
St.-Sgt. Maj. Shlomi Cohen, 31, from Afula, was laid to rest at the Haifa cemetery on Monday evening.
Cohen was shot dead while driving in an army vehicle 50 meters from the Lebanese border near Rosh Hanikra on Sunday night.
Cohen, a career soldier from the Israel Navy, was carrying out an official mission near an IDF border post when six to seven shots struck him and the jeep, critically injuring him.
Paramedics rushed Cohen to Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya, but he succumbed to his injuries soon afterward.
After the shooting, IDF soldiers spotted suspicious figures on the Lebanese side of the border, and opened fire at them. An IDF source said it was not immediately clear if there were casualties on the Lebanese side of the border as a result.
Lebanese media said two Lebanese soldiers were hit by the gunfire, but did not provide details on their condition.
An initial IDF assessment, based on data from lookout positions on the border, found that Cohen was hit by shots fired by a soldier from the Lebanese Armed Forces, who apparently acted alone.
“We are sending messages to the UN Interim Force In Lebanon regarding the severity of this incident. There is no indication that an infiltration into our territory occurred,” the army source said on Sunday night. “The IDF is prepared in the North,” he said.
The IDF said in a statement that it is investigating the shooting, adding that it reserved the right to respond at a time and place it sees fit.
The source added that several details, such as the identity of the Lebanese soldier, remain currently unknown.
Lebanese sources said they had lost contact with the Lebanese soldier after the shooting.
UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti said, “We are now trying to determine the facts of what happened and the situation is ongoing. UNIFIL’s force commander is in contact with counterparts in the Lebanese and Israeli army, urging restraint.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday that both the IDF and the Lebanese military were cooperating with the investigation, though he urged both sides to maintain calm.
Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Israel Ziv, former head of the Operations Branch in the IDF, told Army Radio on Monday morning that the IDF will have to examine how Cohen was permitted to drive alone at night near the frontier.
“The chances of Hezbollah [being responsible] are very low.
This does not fit in with their pattern, it’s not in their interest and it didn’t occur in an area they are active in,” Ziv said.
“What was the motivation of the [Lebanese] soldier? All options could be true. The Lebanese army also does not have an interest in this happening,” Ziv said.
He said that the Lebanese Armed Forces, which has limited capabilities but strong discipline and internal order, will investigate the shooting.
Yaakov Biton, a relative of Cohen, described him as a “modest, quiet guy, very dedicated to his wife and daughter.”
Weeping quietly while speaking to Army Radio, Biton said Cohen leaves behind his wife, Ma’ayan, and a daughter who will turn one next month.
The young family had bought an apartment and planned to move soon.
“All of these plans are gone now,” Biton said.Reuters contributed to this report.