Israel provides info on UNTSO deaths

Document reports on Hizbullah activity in immediate vicinity of IAF attacks.

UN blast 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
UN blast 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Israel on Thursday presented diplomatic officials from Canada, China, Finland and Austria with the findings of the investigation into the killing of four UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organization) observers in Lebanon on July 25. One soldier from each of the four countries was killed in the incident which, for a brief period, strained Israel's relations with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Immediately after the attack on the observer post in Khiyam, near the eastern end of the border with Israel, Annan expressed "shock and deep distress" over what he called the "apparently deliberate targeting" of the UN position. Israel took umbrage at Annan's comments, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in a phone conversation with him at the time, promised to investigate the incident and pass the findings on to the UN. This was done earlier in the week, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev, and on Thursday the findings were passed on to the individual countries at a meeting at the Defense Ministry. According to Regev, Israel again "expressed our regret that the four innocent observers were killed and caught up in the conflict." He said the report went into the nature of the fighting in south Lebanon, the IDF's policy of not targeting UN personnel, and how to better coordinate in the future to avoid similar incidents. Regev said the document reported on the Hizbullah activity that took place in the immediate vicinity of the attacks, and "contains a wealth of logistical information" surrounding the incident. The report did not, however, include the e-mail message sent by one of those killed, Canadian Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, to a Canadian colleague, Maj.-Gen. Lewis Mackenzie, saying there was extensive Hizbullah activity very close to the post.