Why the hell did they stay there? Who ordered it?
Sonia Verma, National PostPublished: Thursday, July 27, 2006
BEIRUT - In the days leading up to his death, Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener was a soldier under siege, trapped in his UN compound as the war closed in around him.
But even as the bombing intensified, the Canadian peacekeeper managed to send a letter from the front lines.
"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 wrote in an e-mail just nine days before he was killed with three other UN peacekeepers by an Israeli bomb.
"The closest artillery has landed within two metres of our position and the closest 1,000-lb aerial bomb has landed 100 metres from our patrol base."
He attributed the attacks to the grim reality of war, refusing to blame the Israelis for hitting the compound and emphasizing "the nature of my job here is to be impartial and to report violations from both sides without bias."
"This has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity," he wrote.
The statement suggested that Hezbollah fighters were operating close to the UN base.
His death struck a chord with other Canadian troops yesterday as they evacuated stranded foreigners from the southern Lebanese city of Tyre.
"It's brought everything home for a lot of us," said one soldier who had served with Maj. Hess-von Kruedener on a tour of duty.
"He was a real veteran, willing to go anywhere and do anything," added the soldier, who could not give his name for security reasons.
Maj. Hess-von Kruedener was the only Canadian serving as a UN military observer in Lebanon.
It was the sixth tour of overseas duty for the infantryman, a 20-year army veteran who had served in Cyprus, Bosnia and Congo.
For the past nine months, he had been stationed on a patrol base about 10 kilometres from the Israeli border.
His eight-man team was responsible for reporting any violations of a United Nations ceasefire, but as unarmed observers they had no ability to enforce it.
He signed his letters "Maj. H.v.K" but was known as "Wolf" to most of his friends.
Maj. Hess-von Kruedener wrote about what he had seen before the outbreak of all-out war -- a failed attempt by Hezbollah to kidnap Israeli soldiers last November, the Israeli shooting of a shepherd boy a few months later.
Border skirmishes grew increasingly intense as Hezbollah continued to lob rockets into northern Israel.
He described the current fighting as "by far the most spectacular and intensive" he had ever seen. It was so intense it forced his UN team to retreat to their camp.
"We are not safe to venture out to conduct our normal patrol activities. We have now switched to Operational Post Duties and are observing any and all violations as they occur," he recounted.
According to a preliminary UN report, the peacekeepers warned the Israeli army as many as 10 times to stop bombing near their camp.Yesterday, Maj. Hess-von Kruedener's body was airlifted out of southern Lebanon. The UN border post where he had served was destroyed
Of course, this is what Kofi had to say.
"I am shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defence Forces of a UN observer post in southern Lebanon," Annan said in a statement later.Has he been talking to his commanders on the ground? What the hell was the UN doing there anyway? What "violations" were they gonna report? It seems like Hezbollah having tens of thousands or rockets and missles in the area would have been a pretty good violation to have started with!!!!! Then how about the tunnels and bunkers and listening equipment? Violations my eye.