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Annan asks Israel to probe 'targeting' of UN post
26 Jul 2006 00:54:09 GMT
Source: Reuters

(Adds Israeli Ambassador's rebuke, paragraphs 5-6)

By Irwin Arieff

UNITED NATIONS, July 25 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on Israel on Tuesday to investigate what he termed the "apparently deliberate targeting" by Israeli defense forces of a U.N. observer post in Lebanon.

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

"I am shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defense Forces of a U.N. Observer post in southern Lebanon," Annan said in a statement issued in New York and Rome, where he was attending Wednesday's international conference on the violence in Lebanon.

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

In Jerusalem, an Israeli army spokeswoman said the military was investigating the report and in New York, Israel's U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman rebuked Annan.

"I am shocked and deeply distressed by the hasty statement of the secretary general, insinuating that Israel has deliberately targeted the U.N. post," Gillerman said in a statement. "I am surprised at these premature and erroneous assertions made by the secretary general, who while demanding an investigation, has already issued its conclusions."

The U.N. 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 U.N. position from attack, Annan 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 U.N. positions and personnel must stop," Annan said

There had been 14 incidents of firing close to the outpost from Israeli forces in the afternoon before it was hit, U.N. officials said, adding that the firing continued even as rescue operations were under way.
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French special forces and soldiers of the 7th BCA reach the southern coast of Lebanon to evacuate 66 foreigners at Naqura July 25, 2006. The evacuees will be transferred onto another French navy ship, Siroco, which will bring them to Cyprus where they will be evacuated to their country of origin.