Israeli army admits troops killed UN official


The Israeli army said yesterday that an initial probe into the killing of a British United Nations official showed that he had been shot by Israeli soldiers who mistook him for a Palestinian gunman.

The army said Mr Iain Hook, the manager of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for rehabilitating the Jenin refugee camp, was shot by its forces during a heated battle with Palestinian gunmen at the UNRWA compound in Jenin.

"From a preliminary investigation it appears that two soldiers saw in the UNRWA compound - from where Palestinian gunmen were shooting at Israeli forces - a man with an object that looked like a gun and they fired at him," the army said in a statement.

Israeli radio stations said earlier that Mr Hook was carrying a mobile phone at the time he was shot.

UNRWA officials were not immediately available to comment on the army report that Palestinian gunmen fired at Israeli troops from within the UN compound made up of trailer-van offices.

An UNRWA spokesman said earlier that the United Nations would hold its own probe into the death of the 54-year-old Briton. The spokesman, Mr Paul McCann, said a UN investigator was due to arrive from New York today.

Mr McCann said Mr Hook was shot while moving outside the offices in the UNRWA compound during the battle.

The United Nations has officially accused Israeli forces of delaying an ambulance summoned to evacuate Mr Hook. The army said a military ambulance was sent to the Briton's aid but that when it arrived he was already dead.