July 27, 2006

Kofi Annan's rush tojudgment


On hearing the news that a United Nationsobservation post manned by four unarmed peacekeepers at the nexus of theIsraeli, Lebanese and Syrian borders was struck by an Israeli bomb, anuncharacteristically forceful Kofi Annan bolted out of a meeting with U.S.Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniorato proclaim his shock at the "apparently deliberate targeting" byIsrael Defence Forces of the post. The UN Secretary-General went on to say theUN would conduct a full investigation. A curious statement, considering hiscomment that the IDF intentionally targeted the observers. Case closed,n'est-ce pas? Not quite.

The blast on Tuesday claimed the lives of Major Paeta Derek Hess-von Kruedener,a Canadian serving with the UN Truce Supervision Organization mission insouthern Lebanon, and three other UN soldiers. On July 18, Major Hess-vonKruedener had sent a number of his colleagues, including regimental officerssuch as myself, an e-mail describing what the situation was like at hislocation since the Israeli attacks began against Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"Based on the intensity and volatility of this current situation and theunpredictability of both sides (Hezbollah and Israel), and given theoperational tempo of the Hezbollah and the IDF, we are not safe to venture outto conduct our normal patrol activities. We have now switched to ObservationPost Duties and are observing any and all violations as they occur."

The penultimate paragraph of Major Hess-von Kruedener's e-mail is prophetic, tosay the least: "The closest artillery has landed within two metres of ourposition and the closest 1,000-pound aerial bomb has landed 100 metres from ourpatrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due totactical necessity."

I have served in another mission where one side constantly set up its weaponsystems, including mortars, in and around hospitals, medical clinics, mosquesand, yes, UN positions, knowing full well that, when it engaged its enemies andreceived return fire, it would make for compelling TV as the networks coveredthe civilian carnage. (When they took up positions around my soldiers, Iadvised their leaders that I would authorize my soldiers to kill them withinthe hour if they didn't withdraw. Fortunately, as I was not an unarmedobserver, I was in a position to do that.) In many cases, the weapon systemswere moved immediately after firing, and their positions around civilians wereabandoned before innocents paid the price for their despicable techniques. Youhave to admit this technique helps to win the PR war, which often is asimportant as the fighting one.

Certainly, the Secretary-General is familiar with this technique, having beenthe UN undersecretary of peacekeeping in the horrific 1990s, when the UN wasfloundering in the Balkans, Somalia and Rwanda.

Retired major-general Lewis MacKenzie was the first commander of UnitedNations peacekeeping forces in Sarajevo.




Official: Hezbollahused U.N. as 'shield'
Observerkilled in strike wrote e-mail
contradicting accusation against Israel


Posted: July 27, 2006
5:00 p.m. Eastern


United Nations flag flies with Hezbollah banner at U.N. post (photo: Canadian Jewish News)

The United Nations post inLebanon at the center of controversy over a deadly Israeli attack likely wasbeing used as a "shield" by Hezbollah to fire rockets into the Jewishstate, according to a former U.N. commander in Bosnia.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annanhas accused Israel of deliberately targeting the post where four officials ofthe world body were killed in an Israeli airstrike on the southern Lebanesevillage of El Khiam Tuesday night.

But retired Maj.-Gen. LewisMacKenzie points to an e-mail by one of the observers killed in the attack thatbacks Israel's claim that it was targeting Hezbollah, reported the CanWest NewsService of Canada.

The dead observer, Maj. PaetaHess-von Kruedener, wrote an e-mail last week to the Canadian televisionnetwork CTV that alluded to Hezbollah's tactics.

"WhatI can tell you is this, we have on a daily basis had numerous occasions whereour position has come under direct or indirect fire from both (Israeli)artillery and aerial bombing.

"The closest artillery haslanded within 2 meters (sic) of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerialbomb has landed 100 meters (sic) from our patrol base. This has not beendeliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity."

MacKenzie said Hess-von Kruedenerwas indicating Israeli strikes were aimed at Hezbollah targets near the post,the Canadian news service reported.

"What that means is, inplain English, 'We've got Hezbollah fighters running around in our positions,taking our positions here and then using us for shields and then engaging the(Israeli Defence Forces)," he said.

McKenzie said this indicatesHezbollah purposely set itself up near the U.N. post, a tactic he observed inprevious international missions. McKenzie was the first U.N. commander inSarajevo during the Bosnia civil war, CanWest reported.

The U.N. has claimed there was noHezbollah activity in the area of the strike.

From his U.N. post, however,Hess-von Kruedener wrote he had a view of the "Hezbollah static positionsin and around our patrol Base."

"It appears that the lion'sshare of fighting between the IDF and Hezbollah has taken place in ourarea," he wrote, noting later it was too dangerous to venture out onpatrols.

A senior U.N. official asked byCanWest about the e-mail denied the world body had been caught in acontradiction.

"At the time, there had beenno Hezbollah activity reported in the area," he said. "So it wasquite clear they were not going after other targets; that, for whatever reason,our position was being fired upon.

"Whether or not they thoughtthey were going after something else, we don't know. The fact was, we told themwhere we were. They knew where we were. The position was clearly marked, andthey pounded the hell out of us."






July 28, 2006

Positive outcome needed


Edmonton -- The fate ofMajor Paeta Derek Hess-von Kruedener, serving with the United Nations InterimForce in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is indeed a terrible tragedy (Harper Demands Answers-- July 27). Major Hess-von Kruedener clearly represents everything that isgood about our soldiers overseas -- bravery and dedication under trying anddangerous circumstances.

I would hope that onepositive outcome that might result from this is an examination of Canada'sfuture role in so-called "peacekeeping" missions for the UN. I can'thelp but wonder why unarmed multinational observers were in southern Lebanon inthe middle of an all-out war between Hezbollah terrorists and the IsraelDefence Forces. Who is responsible for leaving them in the line of fire when,according to Major Hess-von Kruedener's own dispatches, Hezbollah hadoperational positions near their outpost that would surely draw counter-firefrom the Israelis -- some bureaucrat at UN headquarters in New York?

And even before this latestconflict began, exactly what has UNIFIL been doing for the past six years toadvance peace and security (and UN resolution 1559) in southern Lebanon whenit's clear that Hezbollah was able to amass thousands of rockets whoseunprovoked use, along with a cross-border killing/kidnapping operation, touchedoff this entire mess in the first place?

To Major Hess-vonKruedener, and Canadian soldiers currently serving from Haiti to the Balkans,we owe nothing less.





Hezbollah uses UN posts as shields



CanWestNews Service; Ottawa Citizen; with files from Reuters

Thursday, July 27, 2006


OTTAWA - The words of aCanadian United Nations observer written just days before he was killed in anIsraeli bombing of a UN post in Lebanon are evidence Hezbollah was using thepost as a ''shield'' to fire rockets into Israel, says a former UN commander inBosnia.

Those words, written inan e-mail dated just nine days ago, offer a possible explanation as to why thepost which according to UN officials was clearly marked and known to Israeliforces was hit by Israel Tuesday night, said retired major general LewisMacKenzie Wednesday.

The strike hit the UNobservation post in the southern Lebanese village of El Khiam, killing Maj.Paeta Hess-von Kruedner, a Canadian serving at the post as an unarmed UNmilitary observer, and three other UN observers.

Just last week, Hess-vonKruedner wrote an e-mail about his experiences after nine months in the area,words MacKenzie said are an obvious allusion to Hezbollah tactics.

''What I can tell you isthis,'' he wrote in an e-mail to CTV dated July 18. ''We have on a daily basishad numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirectfire from both (Israeli) artillery and aerial bombing.

''The closest artilleryhas landed within 2 meters (sic) of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerialbomb has landed 100 meters (sic) from our patrol base. This has not beendeliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity.''

Those words, particularlythe last sentence, are not-so-veiled language indicating Israeli strikes wereaimed at Hezbollah targets near the post, said MacKenzie.

''What that means is, inplain English, 'We've got Hezbollah fighters running around in our positions,taking our positions here and then using us for shields and then engaging the(Israeli Defence Forces),'' he said.

It's a tactic MacKenzie,who was the first UN commander in Sarajevo during the Bosnia civil war, saidhe's seen in past international missions: aside from UN posts, fighters wouldset up near hospitals, mosques and orphanages.

It's also one he wouldlikely use if he was a ''belligerent'' and not a Canadian soldier, he said.

''The most importantthing in combat these days, funnily enough, is not to win the firefight but towin the information battle and the PR battle,'' he said.

Hess-von Kruedner was aCanadian Forces infantry officer with the Edmonton-based Princess Patricia'sCanadian Light Infantry and the only Canadian serving as a UN military observerin Lebanon.

He was no stranger tofighting nearby.

The UN post, he wrote inthe e-mail, afforded a view of the ''Hezbollah static positions in and aroundour patrol Base.''

''It appears that thelion's share of fighting between the IDF and Hezbollah has taken place in ourarea,'' he wrote, noting later it was too dangerous to venture out on patrols.

Retired major DavidKilmartin, a Canadian soldier and UN commander in the Golan Heights when Israelinvaded Lebanon in 1982, said Hess-von Kruedner's words indicate Hezbollah wascertainly close by and Israel was targeting those fighters.

However, Kilmartin sayshe believes the fatal bombing was deliberately done by a ''cowboy'' pilot whowasn't sanctioned to do so by his commanders.

''I think the individualwho did it was a pilot who was a loose cannon on the deck,'' he said, addingthe damage done indicated a direct hit. ''It's either that or he's a piss-poorpilot.''

Kilmartin said Israelwould not always send warnings to his UN troops when it was preparing an attackbecause it feared the UN sharing the information with others.

''What the Israeliswould do would be the same thing we would do,'' he said.

On Wednesday, a deputyhead of UN peacekeeping told a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Councilin New York that firing on and near the post continued despite ''repeatedrequests'' from the UN to the IDF to end it.

Jane Holl Lute said 21strikes occurred within 300 metres of the patrol base, including 12 artilleryrounds which fell within 100 metres four of which scored direct hits on thebase, she said.

''To our knowledge,unlike in the vicinity of some of our other patrol bases, Hezbollah firing wasnot taking place within the immediate vicinity of the patrol base,'' she said.

Even if Hezbollah wasnot firing rockets at the time of the bombing, Hess-von Kruedner's e-mailindicates they were using a terrorist tactic of purposely drawing out enemyforces near a neutral site, said retired captain Peter Forsberg, who did two UNtours between 1993 and 1995 during the Bosnian war.

The UN's limitedmandate, meaning that its observers are unarmed and have few options, put thedead observers in a poor position, he said.

If indeed Israel wasattempting to hit Hezbollah fighters in the area, it hasn't yet used the excuseto explain its actions because it wouldn't make it any less guilty in theworld's eyes, Forsberg said. Israel likely kept aiming near the post despiteknowing it was there the current post has been standing since 1978 because theyhad their sights on the threat posed by Hezbollah.

''They don't care fromwhere that threat comes, they're going to go at that threat whether or not it'sbeside a UN (observation post),'' he said.

Ottawa Citizen

 CanWest News Service 2006



UN backs off claim no Hezbollahactivity near peacekeepers' base



CanWestNews Service

Thursday, July 27, 2006


UNITED NATIONS - TheUnited Nations appeared to be caught in a contradiction Wednesday after theworld body claimed there had been no Hezbollah activity in the vicinity of apeacekeeping base destroyed in an Israeli strike, killing four UN militaryobservers, one of them Canadian.

An e-mail written byMaj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, identified Wednesday by Prime Minister StephenHarper as the dead Canadian, reveals Hezbollah was extremely active in the daysand weeks before.

The question ofHezbollah's infiltration of the area is significant because UN SecretaryGeneral Kofi Annan, speaking Tuesday just hours after the strike, accused theIsraelis of the "apparently deliberate targeting" of the base nearKhiam in southern Lebanon.

The UN added fuel to thecharge Wednesday when Jane Holl Lute, assistant secretary general forpeacekeeping, told the UN Security Council that Hezbollah had not appeared tobe militarily active in the area.

"To our knowledge,unlike in the vicinity of some of our other patrol bases, Hezbollah firing wasnot taking place within the immediate vicinity of the patrol base," shesaid.

The Israeli strike witha precision-guided missile destroyed the base where Hess-von Kruedener and hiscolleagues from Austria, China and Finland were taking shelter in a bunker.

Holl Lute said it hadbeen preceded by 20 other strikes that hit within 300 metres of the base,including 12 from artillery fire that hit within 100 metres.

A preliminary UN reportsaid commanders of the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon deployed in 1978 towatch over the border area following attacks on Israel by Palestinian militantshad been in touch with Israeli commanders in the field at least 10 times.

They had pleaded withthe Israelis to stop firing and spare the base, UN officials said.

A senior UN officialadded separate pleas were made to the Israeli mission in New York by a toppeacekeeping official and Mark Malloch Brown, UN deputy security general.

The same official saidthe Israelis claimed they were softening up the area ahead of a ground assault.

But far from sayingthere was no Hezbollah activity in the area to justify Israeli interest,Hess-von Kruedener's e-mail, written July 19 and posted on the website of CTV,recounts numerous incidents.

He also said of Israelicounter-fire to that date: "This has not been deliberate targeting, buthas rather been due to tactical necessity."

Annan's charge thatIsrael may have deliberately targeted the UN base sparked strong reactionaround the globe and, at the UN Security Council, China demanded member statespass a resolution condemning the strike.

Holl Lute said theIsraelis continued to fire even as rescue workers were digging through therubble to see if anyone had survived.

Annan Wednesday appearedto back away from his earlier charge, saying he had accepted the explanation ofIsraeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

"The prime minister... definitely believes it was a mistake," Annan said in Rome where he wasattending a high-level crisis meeting on Lebanon.

"He has undertakento investigate and I have suggested we do a joint investigation.

"And he hasexpressed his deep sorrow at what happened, and I accept that."

A senior UN official,asked about the information contained in Hess-von Kruedener's e-mail concerningHezbollah presence in the vicinity of the Khiam base, denied the world body hadbeen caught in a contradiction.

"At the time, therehad been no Hezbollah activity reported in the area," he said. "So itwas quite clear they were not going after other targets; that, for whateverreason, our position was being fired upon.

"Whether or notthey thought they were going after something else, we don't know. The fact was,we told them where we were. They knew where we were. The position was clearlymarked, and they pounded the hell out of us."

 CanWest News Service 2006








Observer said bombing not deliberate

July 27, 2006



EDMONTON -- With artillery landing as close as two metersfrom his position and bombs exploding as near as 100 meters from the patrolbase, Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener said patrols were now out of the question.

Now presumed dead after an Israeli air strike, Hess-vonKruedener described in a July 18 e-mail to the growing chaos surroundinghis UN post in Khiam, a dusty village about 10 km from where the Israeli,Lebanese and Syrian borders intersect.

"Please understand the nature of my job here is to beimpartial. ... As an unarmed military observer, this is my raison d'etre."

Yet he understood why the his position was taking fire.

"This has not been deliberate targeting, but hasrather been due to tactical necessity," he wrote.

Retired Major Gen. Lewis MacKenzie took that to meanHezbollah were entrenched "all around them."

"They come around your position and use you as ashield,"MacKenzie told the Sun yesterday.

MacKenzie said he's faced similar tactics, but had afighting force at his disposal.

He wouldn't say when or where, but recalled once telling asurrounding force "if you don't move away from my troops' position,they're gonna kill you."

But Hess-von Kruedener -- a non-combatant -- didn't havethat option, said MacKenzie, who's served with NATO forces in West Germany andwith UN peace keeping forces in the Gaza Strip, Cyprus, Vietnam, Egypt, CentralAmerica, and former Yugoslavia.

Hess-von Kruedener had been an infantry officer with thePrincess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry for 20 years.

He served in Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of Congo(formerly Zaire), and twice in Bosnia before joining the UN Truce and SupervisionOrganization last October.

He had three months remaining on the one-year mission.