Spain: Israeli fire killed peacekeeper in south Lebanon
The Spanish envoy said he had asked for a full investigation during an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council
Spain on Wednesday said Israeli fire had killed a Spanish U.N. peacekeeper serving in south Lebanon and called on the United Nations to fully investigate the violence.
The Security Council condemned the death of the Spanish corporal who died from wounds sustained during an exchange of fire between Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters on the border.
“It is clear that this was because of the escalation of the violence and it came from the Israeli side,” Spanish Ambassador Roman Oyarzun told reporters.
The Spanish envoy said he had asked for a full investigation during an emergency meeting of the council called by France to discuss ways to defuse tensions between Israel and Lebanon.
The violence raised fears of another all-out conflict between the two countries, who fought a month-long war in 2006, in a region already wracked by fighting in Syria and Iraq.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for “maximum calm and restraint,” urging all sides to “act responsibly to prevent any escalation in an already tense regional environment,” a UN statement said.
Tension in the area has been building, especially after an Israeli air strike on the Syrian sector of the Golan Heights killed six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general on January 18.
“Our objective is to engage toward de-escalation and to prevent further escalation of the situation,” French Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters.
France presented a draft statement to council members but after meeting for over an hour, the council issued a terse condemnation of the peacekeeper's death and made no mention of de-escalation efforts.
Discussions on the council statement were continuing.
Israel's ambassador to the United Nations told the Security Council in a letter that Israel will take all necessary measures to defend itself.
"Israel will not stand by as Hezbollah targets Israelis," wrote Ron Prosor in the letter also sent to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The Israeli envoy demanded that the council condemn Hezbollah and take steps to press Lebanon to disarm the Islamist militants, as outlined in U.N. resolutions.