Smoke rises from shells fired from Israel over al-Wazzani area in southern Lebanon.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli fire killed a Spanish UN peacekeeper near the Lebanese border on Wednesday, the country’s ambassador to the United Nations, Roman Oyarzun Marchesi, said just after the Security Council condemned the death on Wednesday evening.
Marchesi blamed the death of Cpl. Francisco Javier Soria of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon on the violence that occurred along the Israeli-Lebanese border earlier in the day.
In the morning, Hezbollah fired a half dozen anti-tank missiles at two IDF vehicles, killing two soldiers and wounding seven others.
The Spanish peacekeeper was killed as Israel responded with air strikes and artillery fire, a UN spokesman and Spanish officials said.
After a UNSC meeting on the matter, Marchesi blamed the peacekeeper’s death on the “escalation of violence” that led to Hezbollah’s attack said that the fire that killed him, “came from the Israeli side.”
In Jerusalem on Wednesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzahi Hanegbi met with Spanish Ambassador to Israel Fernando Carderera Soler and expressed his condolences for the loss of the peacekeeper.
Israel is investigating the death and will share the results with Spain, Hanegbi said, adding that Israel’s relationship with UNIFIL and the Spanish contingent has been excellent.
He thanked the Spanish government for its reserved response in light of the tragic event. Israel has not formally taken responsibility for the death.
In New York on Wednesday night, Marchesi told reporters that, during the UNSC meeting, “I did express my deepest concern about the deterioration of the situation in south Lebanon which resulted from the rocket attacks launched by Hezbollah from the UNIFIL area of operations toward Israel and the artillery fire which followed across the blue-line [the UN border demarcation from 2000].
“I did condemn this serious breach of the cessation of hostilities between Lebanon and Israel in violation of UN resolution 1701. I did express my strongest condemnation of the death of the UNFIL Spanish peacekeeper, which occurred because of these events,” Marchesi said.
“I called on all sides to exercise utmost restraint, to respect the blue line and to preserve the security and stability of Lebanon,” Marchesi said. “I did ask for a full investigation of the events. I also called on all parties to abide scrupulously by their obligation to respect the safety of UNIFIL and other UN personnel.”
UNSC president Christian Barros Melet of Chile delivered a short statement to the media after the meeting saying council members condemned the death of the Spanish peacekeeper “in the strongest terms.”
“The members of the Security Council expressed their deepest sympathy to the family of the fallen peacekeeper and to the government of Spain,” Melet said.
Earlier on Wednesday Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called his Spanish counterpart to express his condolences.
The EU and Great Britain expressed their condolences to Spain and to Israel over the death of its two soldiers. But UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, like the UNSC, in his statement expressed condolences only for the death of the Spanish peacekeeper.