Israel admits aid worker killing in Jenin; Britain demands investigation

Published November 23rd, 2002 - 02:00 GMT

Britain is demanding Israel fully investigate the death of a British aid worker killed Friday in a UN compound during a gunbattle between Israeli troops and Palestinians in the West Bank city of Jenin, media reports said.  

 

Israel's Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu earlier said he was sorry for the killing of British UNRWA official Iain Hook, 50, who led a UN project to rebuild homes in Jenin refugee camp. Hook is the first UN official to die in over two years of fighting.  

 

An initial Israeli investigation into the death of Cook revealed that he was mistakenly shot by an Israeli soldier.  

 

Israel Radio reported that Cook was shot by accident after emerging from a caravan during the gunfight between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians with a mobile phone in his hand.  

 

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said that Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed sorrow over Hook's death, and promised that Israel would fully investigate the incident.  

 

According to a report on Israel Radio, Netanyahu spoke on the phone with Straw, as well as with Peter Hansen, the commissioner general of UNRWA in the Palestinian territories, to voice this stand.  

 

The Director of Jenin Hospital, Mohammed Abu Ghali has said the bullets retrieved from the victim's abdomen were of the kind generally used by the Israeli army.  

 

Israeli Spokeswoman said that an ambulance to evacuate Hook was quickly arranged for. The United Nations, however, said in a statement that Israeli soldiers refused immediate access for the ambulance and that there appeared to have been a delay in getting Hook out. "It is not known at this time whether the delay resulted in the death," the statement said.  

 

UN officials were trying to contact Israeli authorities to ensure the safety of the Jenin staff. One of Hook's colleagues was on the phone with the director of the United Nations' West Bank operations when Hook was killed, Sami Mshasha, a UN spokesman.  

 

Peter Hansen, the commissioner general of UNRWA, said the entire agency felt "shock and outrage" at the death and that he conveyed his condolences to Hook's family.  

 

"I can only hope they take some small comfort and pride in the knowledge that he lost his life trying to save that of others," he said. (Albawaba.com)

© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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