Middle East

Israel admits its fire killed Spanish UN peacekeeper

Spanish UN peacekeepers in an armoured vehicle patrol the Lebanese-Israeli border, in the southern village of Abbasiyeh, Lebanon (28 Jan 2015) Image copyright AP
Image caption UN peacekeepers in Lebanon are contributed by national armies, including Spain's

A Spanish soldier who was killed in Lebanon in January died as a result of Israeli fire, Israel's military says.

Corporal Francisco Javier Soria Toledo was hit by Israeli artillery following a Hezbollah attack which killed two Israeli soldiers, according to a military statement.

The 36-year-old UN peacekeeper was killed near the village of Ghajar, in the Shebaa Farms area, on 28 January.

The Israeli military said there had been no intention to harm UN troops.

Hezbollah said at the time that its attack on the Israeli soldiers was retaliation for an air strike that killed six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian Revolutionary Guards general in the Syrian Golan Heights 10 days earlier.

Cpl Soria was part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil), which is made up of more than 10,000 troops from 38 different countries.


What are the Shebaa Farms?

Image copyright AFP
  • The farms cover an area about 14km (9 miles) long and 2.5km wide, to the south of the Lebanese village of Shebaa, on the western slopes of Mount Hermon/Jabal al-Sheikh
  • The area has been a flashpoint for violence since Israeli forces withdrew from Lebanon in 2000
  • Until the 1967 Middle East war, the farms were under Syrian control, but the farmers had Lebanese citizenship
  • The area was captured by Israel and annexed in 1981 along with the rest of the Golan Heights, a move not internationally recognised
  • The Lebanese government says the farms are part of its territory, a claim backed by Damascus, but not the UN
  • Hezbollah has consistently used Israel's presence in the area as justification for retaining its weapons and continuing "resistance"

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