Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Israel Targeted UN Monitors

July 26, 2006 - 9:21AM

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on Israel to investigate what he termed the "apparently deliberate targeting" by Israeli defence forces of a UN observer post in Lebanon.

The Israeli air strike killed four UN military observers who were part of the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, UN and Lebanese officials said.

"I am shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defence Forces of a UN Observer post in southern Lebanon," Annan said in a statement issued at UN headquarters in New York.

He was in Rome for an international meeting on the Middle East on Wednesday.

"This coordinated artillery and aerial attack on a long established and clearly marked UN post at Khiam occurred despite personal assurances given to me by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that UN positions would be spared Israeli fire," Annan said.

In Jerusalem, an Israeli army spokeswoman said the military was investigating the report.

The UN force commander in southern Lebanon, General Alain Pelligrini had been in repeated contact with Israeli officers throughout the day, stressing the need to protect that particular UN position from attack, he said.

"I call on the government of Israel to conduct a full investigation into this very disturbing incident and demand that any further attack on UN positions and personnel must stop," Annan said.

The names and nationalities of the dead peacekeepers were being withheld pending notification of their families, Annan said.

There had been 14 incidents of firing close to the outpost from Israeli forces in the afternoon before it was hit, UN officials said, adding that the firing continued even as rescue operations were under way.


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