Israeli bid to 'justify further tragedies'

Lebanon crisis: UN commander infuriated by claims that Hizbollah are still using UN bases as cover for rocket attacks

In an unprecedented exchange with the Israeli army, the UN commander in southern Lebanon yesterday accused his Israeli opposite number of trying to justify future Qana-style massacres by claiming that Hizbollah guerrillas are still using UN bases for cover to fire Katyusha rockets into Galilee.

General Stanislaw Wozniak, Polish commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil), wrote in a letter to the Israeli military command that the Israeli assertion was "a transparent effort to justify further tragedies, should they occur, as a result of continuing random (Israeli) shelling of Unifil area of operations."

More than 120 refugees are now known to have been massacred at Qana when Israeli 155mm guns fired salvoes of shells among the 860 Lebanese civilians crowded inside the headquarters of the UN's Fijian battalion on Thursday. Bizarrely, the Israelis - accusing the same UN soldiers of allowing a Katyusha to be fired at Galilee from the same area - complained not about the Fijians but about the "New Guinea" battalion of the UN. There are no Unifil soldiers from New Guinea, which is 2,000 miles from Fiji.

In a claim which stunned UN personnel in southern Lebanon yesterday, Israel stated that UN peace-keepers were "irresponsible" in giving sanctuary to the refugees while not preventing Katyusha attacks launched from near their bases - an allegation which apparently prompted the suspicion that the Israelis wished Unifil to expel the 5,000 refugees taking sanctuary in UN posts and thus fulfil Israel's orders to them to leave their homes.

"Unifil has a moral and legal obligation to offer humanitarian assistance to the people living in its area under incredibly difficult circumstances," General Wozniak retorted. "Irresponsibility is not trying to protect these innocent non- combatants, but firing at them."

Timur Goksel, Unifil's spokesman, acknowledged that General Wozniak had responded to Israel's claims, adding that "the armed elements (Hizbollah) are local people who make use of their intimate knowledge of the terrain and who move in small, mobile teams. They make sure that they are not seen from UN posts. At times there is nobody around when the rockets are fired because of the use of timers." Taking up this point, General Wozniak wrote to the Israelis that "my understanding is that it is this phenomenon and not Unifil's sheltering of innocent civilians which has brought your operations against Lebanon to its 13th day."

The Israelis claim they were firing at the site of a Katyusha rocket launch 350m from the Qana UN compound when they killed the refugees. On Sunday General Frank Van Kappen, special representative of Boutros Boutros- Ghali, the UN Secretary-General, said he had an appointment to question the Israeli Chief of Staff, General Amnon Lifkin Shahak, about the massacre.

Yesterday it transpired he had been too busy to discuss the slaughter with the UN officer and had delegated the task to his second-in-command.

Suggested Topics
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
art

The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs

News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Mentor for people who have offended

This is an unpaid volunteer role. : Belong: We are looking for volunteers who ...

Business StudiesTeacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Supply Business Studies Teacher...

English Teacher

£110 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: English Teacher - CaerphillyT...

Cover Supervisor, Folkestone School - full time and part time

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We have urgent and multiple vaca...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?