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4 U.N. Peacekeepers Killed in Lebanon
Kofi Annan condemns deaths as 'deliberate'
Ronda Hauben (netizen2)     Print Article 
Published 2006-07-27 07:46 (KST)   
Four U.N. peacekeepers were killed while on duty at a U.N. observation post in the town of Khiam near the eastern end of the Lebanese border with Israel. A report by a BBC correspondent said that there were six hours of shelling in the area.

A timeline obtained by CNN from the U.N. listed the first bomb as exploding 200 yards from the U.N. outpost at 1:20 p.m. The U.N. observer contacted the designated contact with this information asking that the attacks stop. Nine more bombs fell between 100 and 400 yards from the post over the next few hours.

Each time the U.N. observers contacted the Israeli military and were assured that the attacks would stop.(1) Instead, however, the post was hit by an Israeli aerial bomb. When a U.N. rescue team tried to reach the victims, it, too, was hampered in its efforts by Israeli shelling.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan issued a statement saying, "I am shocked and deeply disturbed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defense Forces of a United Nations observer post in Southern Lebanon."

The four U.N. peacekeepers, according to a Canadian report, had arrived in Lebanon only recently. They were members of the U.N.'s Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), which has been operating since 1948 in the Middle East. The U.N. peacekeepers were in Lebanon to help UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon). UNIFIL has patrolled the border area with Israel since 1978 but it has been the subject of much criticism from Israel.

The current UNIFIL mandate is due to expire July 31 and just Tuesday, June 25, the U.N. Security Council refused to renew the UNIFIL mandate saying they wanted to wait for the results of a meeting scheduled for Rome discussing the Israel-Lebanese situation.

The four U.N. peacekeepers who were killed were from Canada, China, Austria and Finland.

A Chinese spokesperson condemned the attack and asked Israel for an investigation and apology. The Chinese U.N. observer killed in the attack was identified as Du Zhaoyu.

Finland also condemned the attack and called for "an immediate and full inquiry into this event."(2)

At a meeting in Kuala Lumpur of Asian foreign ministers, a statement was issued condemning the action. The ministers extended their condolescences to the families of the victims and expressed their sympathies to the governments of the victims.

The Asian ministers called for an immediate cease fire in the Israeli - Lebanon conflict.(3)

Israel has denied that the attack was deliberate. They did not explain why the firing on the U.N. post began and continued even after being repeatedly notified about the problem.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, expressed his regret for the deaths calling them "accidental." In a statement issued about the incident, Israel said, "It is inconceivable that the error that was made would be defined by the U.N. as an action that seemed deliberate." Israel promised an inquiry by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) into the event with the results to be shared with the U.N. Secretary-General.(4)

Over 400 civilians have been killed since the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

An anti-war demonstration in Israel on Saturday, July 22 drew 5,000 people condemning Israel's attacks on civilians in Lebanon and Palestine and demanding the Israeli defense minister, Amir Peretz, resign.(5)

While the Israeli government has claimed that Israel's attack on Lebanon is a response to a provocation from Hezbollah of a "kidnapping" of two Israeli soldiers, there are reports that the two soldiers were not kidnapped in Israel, but were captured in Lebanon after having "infiltrated" into the town of Aitaa al-Chaab inside the Lebanese border.(6) Thus there are conflicting accounts of the incident that is used by Israel to justify its invasion of Lebanon. This means that any attack on civilians is unjustified and should be condemned including Hezbollah's firing of rockets on civilian areas of Israel, but this is not an excuse for Israel to kill civilians in Lebanon.

Regardless of what the precipitating event is, however, the killing and wounding of civilians and the destruction of Lebanese homes and infrastructure is a serious problem with no legitimate moral, rational or legal justification.

The U.S. government's support for Israel's military action against the civilian population in Lebanon is also a serious challenge to the rule of law in international relations.

The deaths of the U.N. peacekeepers, even after repeated efforts by the U.N. to ask Israel to cease firing on their location, is a serious violation by Israel of its international obligations. It should be taken by Israel as a sign of the failure of its policy of ignoring international norms and laws and instead engaging in the unbridled use of its power and weapons.

One can only wonder if the Security Council's refusal to extend the UNIFIL mandate is seen by Israel as license to attack U.N. posts in Lebanon. The use of force by Great Britain against the German civilian population during WWII did not succeed in shortening WWII. Rather, it led to an increased number of British casualties and a lengthening of the war.

A similar result can only be achieved by the Israel use of force, with U.S. backing, against the Lebanese civilian population and even the U.N. observers. Therefore, the Israeli and U.S. governments would do well to reconsider their claims that the attacks on the Lebanese civilian population can bring an end to any hostilities in the region.
Is the Israel-Hezbollah fight the beginning of a wider war?  (2006-07-27 ~ 2006-08-09)
Yes
No
I don't know
1) http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/07/26/mideast.observers/

2) http://newsroom.finland.fi/stt/showarticle.asp?intNWSAID=13256&group=Politics

3) http://newsinfo.inq7.net/breakingnews/world/view_article.php?article_id=11908

4) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,251-2286281,00.html

5)http://www.imemc.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20250&Itemid=173

6) http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/hezbollah_soldiers.html
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ronda Hauben

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