The deaths raised questions about whether peacekeepers should remain in south
Lebanon while the international community debates whether to send in new forces.
France and others have suggested UNIFIL could help deliver aid or protect
Both the 2,000-soldier UN Interim Force in Lebanon and the 155-strong UN
Truce Supervision Organization remain in the area despite intense fighting
between Israel and Lebanon's Hizbollah militia.
Observers asked Israel to stop bombing 10 times before post was
UN observers in Lebanon telephoned the Israeli military 10 times in six hours
to ask it to stop shelling near their position before an attack killed four
observers and sparked international anger against Israel, UN officials said
The UN observation post near Khiam came under close Israeli fire 21 times
Tuesday, including 12 hits within 100 yards and five direct hits from 1:20 p.m.
until the peacekeepers' post was destroyed at 7:30 p.m., Jane Lute, assistant
secretary-general for peacekeeping, told the UN Security Council in New York on
UN officials said Hezbollah militants had been operating in the area of the
post near the eastern end of the border with Israel, a routine tactic to prevent
Israel from attacking them.
A Lebanese man reacts as he looks at destruction caused by Israeli air
strikes in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a strong hold of Hezbollah, July 25,
"We did repeatedly in recent days say (to Israel) that this was an exposed
position, that Hezbollah militants were 500 meters (yards) away shielding
themselves near UN workers and civilians," UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland
said. "That's why it is so inexplicable that what happened."
Israeli officials had told the United Nations that the bombing around the
base was part of an "an aerial preparation for a ground operation," said the
senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Officials in the outpost called the Israeli army 10 times during those six
hours, and each time an army official promised to have the bombing stopped,
according to a preliminary UN report on the incident.
Once it became clear those pleas were being ignored, the force's commander
sought the involvement of top officials in New York, a senior UN official in New
York said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation of the
incident was not yet complete.