UN officer reported Israeli war crimes before deadly bombing: widow
A United Nations military observer sent e-mails home to Canada reporting that Israel was bombing schools and waging "a campaign of terror against the Lebanese people" shortly before he was killed by an Israeli bomb in Lebanon, said his widow.
Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener of Kingston, Ont., a member of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, was one of four UN military observers who died when the Israeli Defence Forces bombed a marked United Nations post on July 25, 2006.
Cynthia Hess-von Kruedener said her husband's mission was to report on the hostilities in the area and she believes that is why Israeli forces attacked the Israeli United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) post, despite Israel's claims that the bombing was accidental.
"Obviously they were unhappy with what they were observing. Maybe that post was in the way as well," she said. "I know my husband was reporting war crimes. And I guess they don't want to deal with that."
Hess-von Kruedener said she is speaking out this week because a Canadian Forces board of inquiry report issued recently about the bombing has left questions unanswered.
The report, released Jan. 31, blamed the Israeli Defence Forces for the incident, but also found the Israeli military refused to provide documents other than a summary of its own internal investigation, "which lacked sufficient detail to explore certain issues to their fullest extent." The report said the UN also refused to provide documents requested for the investigation.
Israeli government spokesman Ariyeh Mekel said Wednesday from Jerusalem that Israel is examining the report, and has no response yet. Mekel also offered Israel's condolences to the families of the four dead men.
Hess-von Kruedener said she is not satisfied with the response of the Canadian government, which she alleges did not protest Israel's refusal to co-operate in the probe.
"Well you expect your government to step in and do the right thing, but that doesn't seem to be the case," she said. "So we are just … We don't know where to turn. We're just beside ourselves I guess."
PM wants to get to the bottom of things
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said shortly after the attack that he did not believe Israel deliberately targeted the UN post, but would ask Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "for his full co-operation in getting to the bottom of this."
Israel said the attack was an accident, but took responsibility for errors that reportedly led to the bombing.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Hess-von Kruedener called on the House of Commons to debate the findings of the board of inquiry report through the foreign minister, and take the issue to the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly.
She also asked the public to get involved by writing their MPs.
"I know that Paeta would also want the international community to speak up," she said. "I'm only one voice … I definitely need other people to speak out and say something needs to happen."