The Lebanese soldier who shot and killed IDF Master Sgt. Shlomi Cohen during a cross-border attack Sunday night will be prosecuted in Lebanon, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Tuesday.
Ya’alon said the IDF received the report of the impending prosecution via Lebanese officials, who emphasized that the shooter had acted of his own accord.
According to Lebanese defense sources, the shooter told Lebanese military officials that he identified a figure only meters from the border fence acting suspiciously, and opened fire.
Since his commanders were not in his immediate proximity, the soldier claimed, he decided on his own to shoot into Israel, Haaretz reported.
The serviceman who killed Cohen turned himself in to authorities in Lebanon on Monday morning, Lebanese media reported.
During a Monday meeting with the UN’s special coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati called the shooting “an isolated incident of limited scope.”
Mikati added that he hoped the Lebanese-Israeli border would remain quiet, as per UN Resolution 1701.
Cohen, 31, from the northern town of Afula, was buried in Haifa on Monday afternoon. He is survived by his wife and 11-month-old daughter, Shahar. Cohen’s father, Yossi, holding back tears in TV interviews, called him “a golden child… an angel… beloved by everyone.”
Cohen had been driving back to his naval base on a border road in his civilian vehicle when he was fired upon from the Lebanese side of the border.
IDF officials met with UN personnel and Lebanese Army officers on Monday to discuss the incident.
Following the attack, the IDF issued a statement saying it “reserved the right to respond at a time and in a manner” of its choosing.
A Hezbollah-affiliated website reported that the Lebanese terror group put its fighters in southern Lebanon on high alert after the shooting.
In 2010, Lebanese snipers shot at Israeli soldiers on the border, killing one and injuring another, sparking an international incident. Three Lebanese soldiers and a journalist were killed in Israeli retaliatory strikes. Israel and Hezbollah fought a three-week war in 2006, but the border with Lebanon has remained mostly quiet since.
AP, Lazar Berman and Ilan Ben Zion contributed to this report.