A Spanish member of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was killed Wednesday, following an IDF response to a cross-border attack by Hezbollah on Israeli soldiers.
A 36-year-old corporal “died this morning during incidents between Hezbollah and the Israeli army in the area of responsibility of the Spanish contingent”, the Spanish defence ministry said in a statement.
The soldier was part of the 10,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon (UNIFIL), which includes 600 Spanish soldiers.
Spain’s Defense Minister Pedro Morenes, who was flying to India for a three-day visit, canceled the trip and returned to Spain mid-flight, the ministry said.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy expressed on Twitter his “great sadness at the death of a Spanish soldier in Lebanon.”
Israel shelled multiple targets in southern Lebanon after soldiers came under attack in the northern Mount Dov area along the border with Lebanon. Initial reports said an army vehicle was targeted by anti-tank missiles concurrently with mortar fire from Lebanon on IDF positions.
The attack was claimed by Hezbollah, which said it was revenge for an alleged Israeli airstrike that killed a senior commander in the Lebanese group, along with an Iranian general and 10 others, earlier this month.
UNIFIL, the United Nations agency tasked with monitoring the border between Israel and Lebanon, has suffered casualties from similar cross-border incidents in the past, including five peacekeepers who were killed by IDF fire during the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
Following the artillery barrage, Israel asked UNIFIL peacekeepers to not abandon their positions in south Lebanon, according to Lebanese news reports.
AFP contributed to this report.