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PM apologies for UN deaths

by: Ronny Sofer, - Last updated: 2006-07-26

Ehud Olmert

Ehud Olmert

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert phoned UN Secretary General Kofi Annan Wednesday morning to express his deep regret over the death of four UN observers in Lebanon.

Olmert told Annan that he has instructed the IDF to thoroughly investigate the incident, adding that he would share the findings with the secretary general once they are in.

During the conversation the prime minister said he was taken aback by the statement made by Annan following the incident.

Speaking in Rome, where he was to attend an international conference on the 13-day Lebanese crisis, Annan said he was "shocked" at Israel's "apparently deliberate targeting" of the UN post.

Lebanese sources said four UN observers were killed in an Israel Air Force strike on a UNIFIL base near the border. A spokesman for the organization’s force in Lebanon said, “One aerial bomb directly impacted the building and shelter in the base of the United Nations Observer Group in Lebanon in the area of Khiam.”

Danny Gillerman, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, said ‘I was shocked and deeply distressed by the hasty statement by the secretary general insinuating that Israel has deliberately targeted the UN post at Khiam and surprised at these premature and erroneous assertions.’

The IDF said it attempted to strike a Hizbullah outpost in the area and that claims of a strike on a UNIFIL base are being checked.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev told Reuters "Israel sincerely regrets the tragic death of the UN personnel in south Lebanon."

"We do not target UN personnel and, since the beginning of this conflict, we have made a consistent effort to ensure the safety of all members of (the UN peacekeeping force). This tragic event will be thoroughly investigated."

Reproduced with permission: Ynet