US Vetoes UN Condemnation OF Israeli Attack on UN-Peace-Keepers
UN-officials told that the UN Peace-Keepers contacted the Israeli while being under Israeli fire for hours. The Israeli army promised to stop firing on them. A Few Hours later the UN-Post was hit by a Israeli precision bomb.
4 UN-soldiers died: 1 from Austria, 1 from China, 1 from Canada, and 1 one from Finland.
Remember that the pulse-coded, precision bombs which struck the UN post have to be guided in by a laser marker, directed by troops on the ground.
The US vetoed a UN condemnation of this attack
FIVE DIRECT HITS?
Israel knew exactly where they were aiming.
US blocks UN from condemning Israel
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
The United States blocked the UN Security Council on Wednesday from issuing a statement that would have condemned Israel's bombing of a UN post on the Lebanon border that killed four military observers overnight Tuesday.
US diplomats refused to comment, and US Ambassador John Bolton was in Washington preparing for a new confirmation hearing before the Senate; however, several diplomats said the United States objected to one paragraph, which said the council "condemns any deliberate attack against UN personnel and emphasizes that such attacks are unacceptable."
Earlier Wednesday, UN officials said that the UN observers in Lebanon had telephoned the IDF 10 times in six hours to ask it to stop shelling near their position.
Jane Lute, assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping, told the UN Security Council in New York that the UN observation post near Khiam came under close IDF fire 21 times Tuesday - including 12 hits within 100 yards and five direct hits - until the peacekeepers' post was destroyed.
UN officials said Hezbollah guerillas had been operating in the area of the post near the eastern end of the border with Israel, a routine tactic to prevent Israel from attacking them.
"We did repeatedly in recent days say (to Israel) that this was an exposed position, that Hezbollah militants were 500 meters away shielding themselves near UN workers and civilians," UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland said. "That's why it is so inexplicable that what happened happened."
IDF officials had told the United Nations that the bombing around the base was part of an "an aerial preparation for a ground operation," said the senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Officials in the outpost called the IDF 10 times during those six hours, and each time an army official promised to have the bombing stopped, according to a preliminary UN report on the incident.
Once it became clear those pleas were being ignored, the force's commander sought the involvement of top officials in New York, a senior UN official in New York said.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown and Lute herself then made several calls to Israel's UN mission "reiterating these protests and calling for an abatement of the shelling," Lute said.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed "deep regret" for the deaths and dismay over UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's accusation that the attack was "apparently deliberate."
Olmert told Annan in a phone call Wednesday that the attack was inadvertent and he promised a "thorough investigation," his office said in a statement.
"It's inconceivable for the UN to define an error as an apparently deliberate action," Olmert said.
China called for an Israeli apology and asked the UN Security Council to condemn the bombing - which killed one of its citizens - and demand the IDF stop attacking UN positions and personnel.
"For China and for others, we condemn this because I think any attack on the United Nations positions and the United Nations personnel is inexcusable and unacceptable," China's UN Ambassador Wang Guangya said.
Austria and Finland, both of which also lost citizens in the attack, condemned the bombing, with Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja calling it "truly tragic." The fourth victim was Canadian.
"These so-called precision attacks seem to be mainly targeting everyone else except the Hezbollah," Tuomioja said. "The longer this continues, the more likely it is that there will be more similar victims."
White House spokesman Tony Snow described the strike as a "horrible thing," but said Israel was behaving responsibly in its aftermath.
"They'll be completely transparent in the way they conduct the investigation," Snow said. "And I think that's the appropriate way to proceed."
UN officials said the observation position was well marked. A picture the world body released Wednesday showed the three-story building was painted white with the letters "UN" emblazoned in large black letters on all sides, and a light blue UN flag hung from a nearby flagpole that was roughly 50 feet high.
Witnesses said the building, which was surrounded by concrete blast walls and barbed wire, also had the letters UN painted on the roof and it was illuminated by floodlights at night.
Israel acts as though it knows it can do anything on earth with impunity, as long as they have that US veto of any UN resolution condemning it behind them.
This is part of what makes the Israeli/US alliance so completely deadly.
LEBANON: IDF told not to fire on unarmed observers, says UN
NEW YORK, 26 July (IRIN) - Despite repeated calls by a United Nations commander, by senior officials in the region and in UN headquarters in New York, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) made a direct aerial strike on a well-marked bunker in southern Lebanon, killing three unarmed UN observers, with a fourth presumed dead.
"I think the attack on UN positions and UN personnel is inexcusable and unacceptable. I think the briefing by the Secretariat is very clear. It sends a clear message," said Chinese Ambassador Wang Guangya. "My government has made a number of demarches to ensure that the UN presence there has to be protected. But after all these demarches, things happened."
The four unarmed peacekeepers, Chinese, Finnish, Canadian, and Austrian observers, were part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Three bodies have been recovered and the fourth is feared dead after an aerial bomb impacted directly on their patrol base near Khiam, southern Lebanon at 19.30 on Tuesday.
"Throughout the day, UNIFIL had protested, directly to the IDF each of these incidents of firing close to Patrol Base Khiam," said Jane Holl Lute, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations in her briefing to the council.
Mark Malloch Brown, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, and UN peacekeeping officials made "half a dozen" telephone calls from the UN Secretariat in New York to Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman and his deputy over the course of the six-hour firing, according to a senior UN official.
"There was a direct request from the mission [in Lebanon] that we urgently request an abatement," so Malloch Brown was enlisted to make the telephone calls, according to a senior UN official. The Israeli ambassador "expressed concern and reiterated that the UN was not a target," said the official.
The reason for the bombing given to the UN by the IDF on the ground was "aerial preparation for a ground operation," the UN official said.
Lute noted in her briefing to the council that even after the IDF attack, when the bunker was reduced to rubble, "Firing continued during the rescue operation despite repeated requests to the IDF for an abatement." Some assurances had been given over the phone by Israel while the rescue operation was in progress that rescuers would not be fired upon, a senior UN official said.
Twenty-one strikes by IDF forces within 300 meters of the patrol base occurred, as well as 12 artillery rounds that fell within 100 meters of the base, four of which hit the base directly, according to Lute. She noted that the Hezbollah militia did not fire on the base at this time, according to all information available.
Tuesday evening UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a strong statement from Rome, Italy, condemning the "apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defence Forces of a UN Observer post in Southern Lebanon."
"Furthermore, General Alain Pelligrini, the UN 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 UN position from attack," said Annan.
On Wednesday, Deputy UN Spokesperson Marie Okabe indicated that Annan used the word "deliberate" in order to describe the attack. "With the kind of attack that did take place, somebody had to have targeted it in order for it to be hit. He was not accusing anybody or pointing directly at any person, but deliberate had to do with the kind of strike and target."
Annan called for an immediate investigation by the Israeli government into this "very disturbing incident," and suggested that the UN take part. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations will be conducting its own investigation by board of inquiry.
"I... demand that any further attack on U.N positions and personnel must stop," said Annan.
On Wednesday, the Secretary-General told reporters in Rome he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and accepted Olmert's belief that the six-hour air and artillery shelling was a "mistake." "He has expressed his deep sorrow at what happened, and we accept that," said Annan.
The military observers are the latest UNIFIL casualties since the recent outbreak of hostilities. On 17 July, a UNIFIL staff member and his wife were killed during an aerial bombardment in Tyre. Five soldiers and one military observer have also been wounded as a result of firing.
Security Council resolution 1503, drafted in 2003, outlines measures aimed at improving the safety of UN and associated personnel. A key provision relates to attacks against members of United Nations operations, and calls for "the establishment of such attacks as crimes punishable by law and the prosecution or extradition of offenders."
Did Israel Attack the U.N. 'Accidentally on Purpose'?
By Ian Williams, AlterNet. Posted July 27, 2006.
Israel's recent bombing of a U.N. observation post in Lebanon is eerily similar to one 10 years ago.
With the Israeli bombing of a U.N. camp and the killing of four U.N. peacekeepers, we really do seem to be in a "deja vu" all over again phase. Already Kofi Annan is under attack for condemning the "apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defense Forces of a U.N. Observer post."
It is reminiscent of the trouble his predecessor Boutros Boutros-Ghali got himself into last time the Israelis tried shock and awe on Lebanon back in 1996, when he failed to suppress a report that said pretty much the same thing about the IDF shelling of the U.N. post in Qana, which macerated some 106 Lebanese civilians to death.
It is worth remembering that of all U.N. secretaries-general, Annan has done the most to end Israel's isolation in the organization and maintained the closest relations with Israel's friends in the United States. In the end, however, he is also a secretary-general who sets great store by protecting U.N. staff, and so the palpable anger of his statement is entirely understandable.
"This coordinated artillery and aerial attack on a long-established and clearly marked U.N. post at Khiyam occurred despite personal assurances given to me by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that U.N. positions would be spared Israeli fire. Furthermore, Gen. Alain Pellegrino, the U.N. force commander in southern Lebanon, had been in repeated contact with Israeli officers throughout the day on Tuesday, stressing the need to protect that particular U.N. position from attack."
So to accept it was yet another accident presupposes a level of incompetence or insubordination in the Israeli army that should result in some serious courts-martial but never does. That feeling was doubtless exacerbated when the IDF shelled the site and prevented a rescue operation.
So what could be the motive? It is clear that there are many in the IDF with a profound contempt for the United Nations and all it stands for, and who would not shed many tears at such an accident. It may also rankle that UNIFIL has, with the dearth of Western reporters in much of southern Lebanon, provided independent corroboration of many incidents of IDF attacks on civilians. One only has to think of the fate of the USS Liberty in 1967 for being in a position to observe what the IDF was up to when the Israelis bombed and shelled an American ship for over an hour, killing 34 American sailors and wounding 170 more.
And most sinisterly of all, there are many Israelis -- including the government only a few days ago, who do not want an international force between them and their targets in Lebanon, who would have no great scruples about bombing a U.N. compound "accidentally on purpose."
This time, the "collateral damage" is not just four dead U.N. personnel. The bombing scotches any realistic chance of a reinforced U.N. or multinational peacekeeping force -- which it is worth remembering that Israel itself opposed until a few days ago, and which the war party in Israel sees as a potential obstacle to its attempts to emulate Ariel Sharon's disastrous invasion in 1982. (See the Israeli peace group Gush Shalom's ad in Ha-Aretz at the end of the article.)
Already, while many countries have endorsed the general idea of putting foreign troops on the Lebanese side of the border, there has been a complete lack of specific volunteers -- for the understandable reasons that the attack on Khiyam now so forcibly demonstrates.
Third-world militaries like the Fijians and Ghanaians make lots of money out of providing peacekeepers for UNIFIL and seem to think weekly humiliation by the Israelis and Hezbollah is worth it. There are few serious military powers that would tolerate sending their troops for IDF target practice, let alone Hezbollah attacks. And who knows? If any were so bold as to put in contingents, they may well stand up to Israeli incursions as well.
Some Israel supporters are already arguing that the bombing could not have been deliberate because it was a public relations disaster for Israel. Excuse me, but only an American or Israeli commentator could say that. Manifestly, for the rest of the world, the whole Israeli campaign is a PR disaster, with massive majorities even in Blair's Britain regarding the Israeli attack as a massively disproportionate reaction, let alone how Israel's assault is turning Hezbollah into the toast of the Third World. There is some added piquancy that both the Lebanese and Iraqi prime ministers (until this week at least champions of the democratic "New Middle East") are condemning Israel's assault.
Condoleezza Rice's statement that it is "too early" for a ceasefire, when only 500 were dead and countless more dismembered, should go down with Madeleine Albright's since regretted statement that the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children as a result of sanctions was "a price worth paying."
Since Annan is already going at the end of year, which puts him beyond reach of Bolton's veto, we can but hope that he will not be browbeaten by Rice, Bolton or Bush, but will use the sacrifice of the U.N. observers to shame the Security Council into demanding an immediate ceasefire.
And who knows, while he is still angry, he may wish to remind them that Israel was defying Resolution 242 for many decades before 1559, and that it has to be a crucial foundation for any peace settlement for the region.
1982 and 2006, side by side
THEN: The war was prepared well in advance.
THIS TIME: The same.
THEN: We went to war only to protect "the Peace of Galilee".
THIS TIME: We go to war to protect Haifa and Afula, too.
THEN: We waited for a provocation (the attempt on the life of Ambassador Argov).
THIS TIME: We waited for a provocation (the capture of two soldiers).
THEN: "We shall advance only 40 KM in order to eliminate the Katyushas."
THIS TIME: "We shall advance only a few kilometers in order to eliminate the rockets."
THEN: Sharon acted behind the back of the cabinet.
THIS TIME: Olmert-Peretz-Halutz act behind the back of the ministers.
THEN: We destroyed Lebanon.
THIS TIME: We are destroying Lebanon.
THEN: Only the PLO profited from the war. A few years later they returned to Palestine.
THIS TIME: Only Hezbollah will profit from the war. Their prestige in the Arab world increases every day.
THEN: We were stuck in the quagmire for 18 years.
THIS TIME: How long shall we be stuck?
Ian Williams writes on the United Nations for AlterNet. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy in Focus, The Nation and Salon. He is also the author of "Rum: A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776."
Perhaps this is what the Olmert Extremists didn't want the UN to report:
Americans Covertly Fighting With IDF In Lebanon
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