Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Notes: Sue Bailey, "Cdn UN peacekeeper described constant bombing in days before deadly strike," Canadian Press, July 27, 2006.

"What I can tell you is this: we have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both artillery and aerial bombing," he [Hess-von Kruedener] wrote.

"The closest artillery has landed within two metres of our position and the closest 1,000-pound (450-kilogram) aerial bomb has landed 100 metres from our patrol base."

"This has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity."

Hess-von Kruedener had been an infantry officer with the Princess 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 Supervision Organization last October.

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

His job, along with other international members of Observer Group Lebanon's Team Sierra, was to report any violations of the now-abandoned ceasefire along the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Harry Bloom, eastern vice-president of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Association, spent a year in the early 1970s patrolling the exact terrain where Hess-von Kruedener served.

"It's rocky, it's hilly, it's dangerous," Bloom said. "The area has always been dangerous for travellers."

Bloom, now retired at 66, said he wasn't surprised by news that an Israeli bomb had hit the post - and he doesn't believe it was an accident.

"I agree with (UN Secretary General) Kofi Annan's comment that it seemed to be an intentional hit. It would have to be. The outposts are so well-identified with blue and white paint and flags. A pilot cannot mistake that outpost for anything else."

Bloom described repeated "altercations" with Israeli forces when he was stationed there.

"They would fire from behind us, knowing that returned fire would land in our outpost. So to me, it's not a surprise. Not at all."

He also explained why he thought Israel would attack unarmed UN observers.

"The UN is no great friend as far as the Israelis are concerned," Bloom said in an interview from his home in Orleans, Ont., east of Ottawa.

"When the Israelis do anything on that ceasefire line, the UN is there. The Israelis don't necessarily like someone watching them." ...
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