From Edward Mortimer, director of communications, executive office of the Secretary-General, United Nations:
New York -- The United Nations observers who died in Lebanon on July 25 were killed by an Israeli attack. Retired major-general Lewis MacKenzie's criticism of the Secretary-General's remarks that this was an "apparently deliberate targeting" is itself premature and misplaced (Kofi Annan's Hasty Rush To Judgment -- July 27).
Mr. Annan's expression of shock and distress was based on very precise reports received from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). At least 10 calls were made to the Israeli authorities that afternoon to indicate that Israeli shelling was getting closer to the UN position at Khiyam.
This position, where a Canadian and three other unarmed military observers were later killed, has been well-known to the Israeli army for many years and was clearly marked. The Israelis gave express assurances that UN personnel would be spared. Reports received also showed 21 hits within 300 meters, 12 within 100 meters and four direct hits.
Mr. MacKenzie says that the Canadian observer sent messages implying that "we have Hezbollah fighters all over our position engaging the IDF and using us as shields." This report was sent a full week before the post came under fire. On the day in question, the monitors certainly didn't report that Hezbollah was "all over" their position, or using them as shields. Nor did any of them imply this in any way.
Mr. MacKenzie's extraordinary claim flies in the face of overwhelming available evidence to the contrary. And it does not honor the memory of Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, who was just one example of Canada's proud contribution to peacekeeping.
Not much to add here. As to the last couple of sentences, I would just remind my Conservative readers not to let their irrational hatred of the U.N. lead them to dishonor the death of Canadian soldiers who chose to serve both Canada and the wider world, as Lewis MacKenzie and PM Stephen Harper seem to have done.