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Peacekeepers ‘targeted’ by Israel in Lebanon

A confidential Spanish military report on the death of a Spanish UN peacekeeper in Israeli shelling in Lebanon said he was manning a post that appeared to have been targeted, a newspaper reported Sunday

Peacekeepers 'targeted' by Israel in Lebanon
Spanish UN peacekeepers on patrol in Lebanon, July 2013. Photo: Mahmoud Zayyat / AFP

El Pais cited extracts from the report which drew on testimony from soldiers following the January 28 incident when the Israeli military shelled border areas following a Hezbollah attack that left two Israeli soldiers dead.

Corporal Ivan Lopez Sanchez, who was stationed nearby, told investigators that the UN position was clearly targeted.

"Every time, they corrected the trajectory from Majidiye to the 4-28" post, where the UNIFIL peacekeepers were stationed, he said.

Spain and Israel have agreed to carry out a joint probe into the death of 36-year-old corporal Javier Soria Toledo.

Another Spanish soldier, Sergeant Julio Xavier Garcia, echoed Sanchez, saying the shells initially fell about 500 metres (yards) north of the UN post and then they "corrected the trajectory towards the position."

A third soldier said fragmentation bombs were used in the attack and that the shelling finally appeared to target the main watch tower.

El Pais quoted a UN report which said that Israel had warned the UN peacekeepers at 11:40 am not to venture out, without giving any explanation.

Between 11:48 am and 1:43 pm, nearly 120 artillery shells, 90 mortar grenades and five projectiles were fired in the area, El Pais quoted the report as saying.

The 10,000-strong United Nations Interim Force Lebanon (UNIFIL) includes
some 600 Spanish soldiers and troops from 35 other nations.

UN

Spain slammed over eviction of single mother and her six children

A UN committee has ordered Spain to compensate a single mother and her six children who were forcibly evicted during a housing crisis that saw tens of thousands forced from their homes.

Spain slammed over eviction of single mother and her six children
Archive photo of an anti-eviction protest in Barcelona. AFP

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights said on Wednesday that Madrid had violated the family's right to housing by failing to consider their vulnerability and should prevent similar cases from happening.

The mother, Maribel Viviana Lopez Alban, filed a complaint with the committee in June 2018 after attempting for several years to go through the Spanish courts to block her family's eviction.

She maintained that she had been renting an apartment in Madrid for a year when she discovered that the person she had been paying rent to was not the property's legal owner, committee documents showed.

In December 2014, the financial institution that really owned the property initiated eviction proceedings.

The family then applied for social housing, but their request was denied on grounds that people illegally occupying property were barred from the regional social housing programme.

READ MORE: 

Children suffered panic attacks

The UN committee, which has no enforcement powers, is made up of 18 independent experts tasked with monitoring whether countries adhere to their commitments under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

It had requested that Spain not evict the family while they were examining the case but the family was forcibly removed from their home by police in anti-riot gear shortly afterwards.

They bounced between temporary shelters and Lopez Alban told the committee her children had suffered panic attacks and learning difficulties.   

They were among tens of thousands of people who have been evicted from their homes in Spain since the housing bubble burst and the global financial crisis began in 2007.

The country's national statistics institute NIE tallied that there were 34,680 evictions in 2014 alone at the height of the crisis.

Last year, some 6,500 people were evicted from their homes, according to the latest available statistics.   

In its ruling, the UN committee found that the Spanish courts failed to weigh the rights of the property owner against the consequences of an eviction on the family.   

It also found that the rejection of the family's request for social housing violated the Covenant.

The UN experts called on Spain to “compensate the victims and to create a legal framework to prevent similar violations in the future.”   

They gave Madrid six months to provide an update on its implementation of the ruling.

READ ALSO: Nearly 100 families lose homes each day in Spain

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