Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Israel attacks UN peacekeepers - 2 dead 2 missing

An apparently coordinated and purposeful attack by Israeli Defense Forces tuesday on a UN observation post in the town of Khiam near the border between Israel and Lebanon has left two UNIFIL observers dead and two more burried under the rubble created by the attack. Rescue workers attempted to clear the debris, however Israeli forces continued to fire during the rescue operation according to Milos Struger, spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon. The UN reports that the Israeli air force destroyed the observer post, in which the four observers were sheltering. The four, from Austria, Canada, China and Finland, had sheltered in a bunker under the post after being shelled 14 times previously.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued this scathing statement:

I am shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defense Forces of a United Nations observer post in southern Lebanon that has killed two United Nations military observers, with two more feared dead.

This coordinated artillery and aerial attack on a long established and clearly marked United Nations post at Khiyam occurred despite personal assurances given to me by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that United Nations positions would be spared Israeli fire. Furthermore, General Alain Pelligrini, the United Nations Force Commander in south Lebanon, had been in repeated contact with Israeli officers throughout the day on Tuesday, stressing the need to protect that particular United Nations position from attack.

I call on the Government of Israel to conduct a full investigation into this very disturbing incident, and demand that any further attack on United Nations positions and personnel must stop.

The names and nationalities of those killed are being withheld pending notification of their families. I extend sincere condolences to the families of our fallen peacekeepers.

One might speculate on what these observers may have seen to facilitate such an action with such obvious reprocussions.

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