UN Peacekeeper Killed Amid Israel – Hezbollah Tension

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Corporal Francisco Javier Soria Toledo, 36, was mortally wounded on Wednesday while serving with UNIFIL in southern Lebanon. (photo: UN/Spain)

Jan 28, 2015 –  A Spanish peacekeeper serving with the UN force in Lebanon was killed on Wednesday after Israel responded to an attack by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

“Corporal Francisco Javier Soria Toledo died this morning during incidents between Hezbollah and the Israeli army in the area of ​​responsibility of the Spanish contingent,” Spain’s UN mission said in a statement. “Corporal Cordoba was serving in the 4-28 position in the vicinity of Al Ghajar village.” [see map of UNIFIL deployment]

The Security Council was meeting behind closed doors at 4pm ET to discuss the incident. Spain is currently a non-permanent member of the Council, beginning its two-year term on Jan 1 this year.

There are some 10,000 troops from 36 countries serving with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon. Corporal Toledo, who was married, was serving his second tour of duty with UNIFIL, having deployed in November. He is the 308th peacekeeping fatality for the mission since its formation in 1978.

Two Israeli soldiers were killed earlier when Hezbollah fired on an Israel army convoy in the Shebba farms area along Israel, Syria and Lebanese borders.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Alleged Killer of Irish Peacekeepers Arrested in Detroit

Funeral of Private Derek Smallhorne who was killed along with Private Thomas Barrett in 1980

Funeral of Private Derek Smallhorne who was killed along with Private Thomas Barrett in 1980

July 17, 2014 – A Detroit man accused of killing two Irish peacekeepers serving with the UN in Lebanon in 1980 was arrested by US authorities earlier this week.

Mahmoud Bazzi, who was a member of the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army (SLA), was arrested at his home in Dearborn on an immigration violation that could lead to his deportation back to Lebanon.

He moved to the US shortly after the April 1980 torture and execution of Privates Derek Smallhorne and Thomas Barrett who were serving with the nine-nation UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Bazzi’s brother had been killed a week earlier in a skirmish with UNIFIL troops and the killing of the Irish peacekeepers was said to be a revenge attack.

Bazzi reportedly boasted in the Lebanese press of his responsibility for the killings but years later when confronted by a reporter from Irish television said the SLA militia forced him to confess publicly to the killings. A third Irish peacekeeper who was abducted along with Privates Barrett and Smallhorne, John O’Mahoney, was also shot but survived and says Bazzi was the triggerman.

A spokesperson for UNIFIL in New York said they are aware of the arrest of Bazzi.

“Pending clarity on charges filed by US authorities against the individual we won’t comment specifically,” Aditya Mehta said in an email to UN Tribune. “Any attack against UN Peacekeepers is unacceptable and constitutes a war crime.  We remain eternally grateful for the service and sacrifices of Thomas Barrett and Derek Smallhorne, who were killed while serving in UNIFIL in 1980, and urge the authorities to hold those responsible to account.”

Ninety Irish peacekeepers have been killed serving in UN missions, more than half, 47, were killed serving with UNIFIL.

In total, more than 3,200 UN peacekeepers have lost their lives in the line of duty.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz