A Spanish UN peacekeeper in Lebanon has been killed amid clashes between Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters.
“We are looking into the circumstances of this tragic incident,” said Andrea Tenenti, spokesman for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon.
He refused to be drawn on whose fire had killed the soldier but said it happened close to the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms area.
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy confirmed the victim’s nationality on Twitter, expressing his condolences to his family.
Mi más profundo pesar por el fallecimiento del militar español en #Líbano. Mi afecto y condolencias a su familia y compañeros. MR— Mariano Rajoy Brey (@marianorajoy) January 28, 2015
News of the UN soldier’s death follows exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and fighters from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah near Lebanon’s border.
Israeli media say an army vehicle was fired on in the Har Dov area and there were a number of rocket explosions. Several Israeli soldiers are said to have been wounded.
Hezbollah said it carried out a rocket attack on a military convoy in the Israeli-occupied frontier area. Israel fired shells into southern Lebanon after the attack.
Israeli air force jets struck Syrian army artillery positions near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Wednesday, the military said, in retaliation for rockets launched in the area.
On Tuesday at least two rockets from Syria hit the Israeli-occupied area.
Responding to a report on Lebanese state media, Israel’s military denied that an Israeli soldier had been captured in the Hezbollah attack.
All this comes amid heightened tension, ten days after an Israeli strike in Syria killed an Iranian general and several Lebanese Hezbollah fighters.
Since then troops and civilians in northern Israel and the Golan Heights have been on alert. The Israeli military has deployed an Iron Dome rocket interceptor near the Syrian border.
“Those who try to challenge us on our borders will discover that we are prepared to respond with force. Israel views the attack from Syria very seriously. Those who play with fire will get burned,” said the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Last week the funeral was held in Tehran for the Revolutionary Guard general killed in the Israeli strike on a Hezbollah convoy.
Iran told the US the attack had crossed “red lines”, vowing to respond.
The head of the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon has called for ‘maximum restraint’ from all parties to prevent an escalation and Washington has urged all sides to avoid jeopardising the long-held ceasefire between Israel and Syria.
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