February 6th, 2008
Hello, my name is Cynthia Hess von Kruedener – I’m the widow of Major Paeta Hess von Kruedener. My husband was killed along with 3 fellow Peacekeepers during the Israeli bombing of the UN Patrol Base Khaim, in southern Lebanon on July 25th, 2006
I’m speaking to you today following the release of our Department of Defence / Board of Inquiry. I’ve prepared this statement, instead of an interview – because it’s important to me to address the central issues – at this time – without being misspoken.
I thank the members of the Board of Inquiry: I believe they did a thorough job investigating, within the bounds of their mandate. I encourage all interested parties to review the findings of the BOI, available to the public (almost in their entirety) on the National Defence Website. (http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/focus/hess-von-kruedener/index_e.asp)
First, I want to make it clear that it’s not my intention to place inappropriate blame for the events that led to my husband’s death; and
Secondly, I want to draw attention to the questions that have not been answered through this investigation.
I direct your attention to Paragraph 72, indicating that the Israeli Defence Force has clearly accepted responsibility for the incident that killed my husband and his colleagues.
Just so we’re clear “the incident” refers to the 500 lb, precision guided bomb that was dropped on the UN bunker containing my husband and his fellow Peace Keepers; who were unarmed and serving the world community in the pursuit of peace.
The IDF have attributed the targeting and subsequent attack to an operational error; but offer no explanation of how that error occurred.
Further in paragraph 72, we find that the IDF acknowledges receiving multiple protests regarding their artillery rounds hitting the post. They even acknowledge communication from the UN Force Commander stating: “You are killing my people” – and yet; the IDF fail to explain why the subsequent J-DAM Bomb was NOT halted.
There are questions unanswered:
· If 6 hours of artillery shelling was an operational error – and bombing a UN bunker was an operational error – what are the odds that two operational errors (land and air) occurred within an hour of each other and in the same place? Keep in mind, that the UN Patrol Base was a solitary structure; not surround by any other buildings; painted white; marked UN in big, black letters; flying a UN flag; well mapped; and located in exactly the same place for more than 30 years!
This, and many other questions, will never be answered unless, and until, the IDF reveals the complete findings of its own internal investigation. (An investigation that we know has been performed.) Without complete disclosure, we (the rest of the world), don’t have the necessary information to draw lessons and prevent further, similar loss of UN Peacekeepers:
· It’s clear, and sad, that the sanctity of the UN was not respected and provided no protection to the UN Peacekeepers.
· The Board of Inquiry, conducted by our Defence Department must be the first – NOT the last, step in the process of searching for truth and accountability.
The world needs to know: What were the ‘rules of engagement’ for the IDF pilot who dropped that bomb? I believe that, the IDF lost the privilege of secrecy, on this issue, when they targeted a UN Post.
I call upon the House of Commons to debate the findings of the BOI; and through our Foreign Minister, take this issue to the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly:
· This was not an accident.
· Paeta’s death, with his fellow Peace Keepers: Hans of Austria, Jarno of Finland, and Du, of The Republic of China: was entirely preventable.
· The Security Council (as an instrument responsible for maintaining international law, international peace and security) must condemn violations of UN Protection – in no uncertain terms.
I ask Canadians not to turn away from this issue; as if it doesn’t concern you. The security of Peace Keepers, in this extremely distressed world, affects everybody.
Join me, by contacting your Members of Parliament; ask them to “Make the Safety of our World’s Peace Keepers a Priority!”