United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon suggested that Israeli Defense Forces deliberately targeted a base for the U.N.’s peacekeeping forces near Lebanon’s southern border last month. The attack on January 28 killed in which a peacekeeper from Spain, Cpl. Francisco Javier Soria Toledo.
“The incident happened at a UNIFIL base which is known perfectly by Israeli forces,” Ban said, referring to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.
According to Lebanon’s An-Nahar daily on Saturday, an observation tower of a Spanish UNIFIL position in Abbasieh was directly struck by an artillery shell killing Corporal Toledo. The attack was “a mix of mortar rounds and 155mm high explosive and white phosphorous artillery shells” according to the Daily Star.
“We can’t say they made a mistake … the rounds were getting nearer and nearer and eventually they hit it,” a UNIFIL officer reported and that the U.N. position had been ‘bracketed by artillery rounds’ before the attack.
It is thought that Israeli forces responded with the Hannibal Protocol, the controversial Israeli policy of using extreme firepower to prevent the kidnapping of a soldier even at the expense of his life.
Israel is “fully liable for the death of the peacekeeper” according to a report submitted to the UN Security Council on Friday by the UN’s Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the UN force in Lebanon just days after the attack that killed Corporal Toledo. Netanyahu’s office echoed complaints that UNIFIL was not preventing the flow of weapons and assets in the border region, prompting speculation that the attacks were simply “punishment” as Daily Star noted.
“The prime minister noted that UN Security Council Resolution 1701 has not been implemented and added that UNIFIL soldiers are not reporting on the smuggling of weapons into southern Lebanon,” according to prepared statements.
Israel launched attacks in response to Hezbollah attacks on an Israeli military convoy near the border the same day on January 28, killing two soldiers, wounding several others, and destroying almost a dozen Israeli military vehicles.
Hezbollah attacks were seen as a response to Israeli airstrikes in Syria’s Golan Heights 10 days earlier, which killed several high-ranking Hezbollah members and a general from Iran.
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