JERUSALEM (AFP) – An Israeli attack on a UN base in Lebanon that killed four peacekeepers in July was the result of “severe professional errors” due to poor planning, according to a leaked army document.
Friday’s edition of the Jerusalem Post revealed that the document — which was presented to military attaches and ambassadors from the countries of the victims — put the bombing down to insufficient planning and negligent conduct.
“Since the operational headquarters responsible for the Al-Khiam sector was charged with the sector on short notice, the necessary preparations for the operation in Al-Khiam were performed in an abbreviated process,” the memo was quoted as saying, referring to the Lebanese hilltown where the UN post was hit.
As a result, the manual aids which list potential targets erroneously presented the UN outpost as an enemy position for Shiite militant group Hezbollah, the Jerusalem Post reported.
“Aerial forces attacking targets in Al-Khiam knew only the coordinates of the targets and that they had been identified as legitimate targets by the planning authorities… in accordance with IDF (Israel Defence Force) targeting policy,” it quoted the document as saying.
The Jerusalem Post said the document made no reference to UN claims that observers stationed at the post called Israeli liaison officers on 10 different occasions after the outpost was shelled 14 times.
Last September, the United Nations said its post had been struck by a precision-guided bomb, saying Israel had accepted responsibility and apologised for an “operational level mistake”.
The killing of the four UN observers — an Austrian, a Canadian, a Finn and a Chinese man — had drawn strong condemnation from UN chief Kofi Annan.
The air strike occurred during the 34-day conflict in July and August between Israel and Hezbollah.
Speaking to Canadian television in September, foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev also said a map used by artillery had identified the clearly marked UN post as a Hezbollah base.