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Israel 'Regrets' Deaths Of UN Observers

UN observers removing a body from the bombed observer post on July 25 (epa) July 26, 2006 -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has telephoned United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to express his "deep regret" over the killing of four UN observers by an Israeli air strike.

Annan earlier said the strike in South Lebanon on July 25 of a UN observer post was "apparently deliberate" and called on Israel to investigate the incident.

Olmert said it was an accident and expressed dismay over Annan's characterization of the incident. Israel earlier said it "regrets" the deaths.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman said he was "shocked" by Annan's accusations. But speaking to CNN on July 25, Gillerman said Israel has launched an inquiry.

"Israel is investigating this," Gillerman said. "We're investigating this very, very thoroughly. We don't unfortunately at this very moment know what happened, but we're very sorry, as I said, about this tragic incident and we will investigate it thoroughly, fully, swiftly, and will share the findings of this investigation with the United Nations."

Among the four dead was a Chinese national, Du Zhaoyu. The names or the nationalities of the other observers are not known.

(compiled from agency reports)

UN Peacekeepers

UN Peacekeepers
UN peacekeepers in Haiti in February 2006 (AFP)

MISSION In cases in which international intervention in regional conflicts is deemed necessary, peacekeeping missions authorized by the UN Security Council provide legitimacy by demonstrating the commitment of the international community to address such crises.

MANDATE UN peacekeeping missions are prepared, managed, and directed by the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The unique mandates of peacekeeping missions falls under the authority of the UN's Security Council and General Assembly, and under the command of the UN secretary-general.

MONEY Funding for UN peacekeeping missions is provided by UN member states. All are legally obliged to pay a share under an established formula. The leading financial providers as of 2006 were: the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Canada, Spain, China, and the Netherlands.

MORE All UN peacekeeping missions share the goals of alleviating human suffering and creating conditions for self-sustaining peace. Missions can consist of armed or unarmed military components, depending on their mandate, and various civilian tasks.

Military operations can include:
· Deploying to prevent the outbreak of conflict or the spillover of conflict across borders;
· Stabilizing conflict situations after a cease-fire in order to create an environment for the parties to reach a lasting peace agreement;
· Assisting in implementing comprehensive peace agreements;
· Leading states or territories through a transition to stable government, based on democratic principles, good governance, and economic development.

HISTORY There have been 60 peacekeeping operations since 1948. Fifteen peacekeeping missions were in operation in mid-2006, employing more than 60,000 troops, 7,000 police, and over 2,500 military observers. Peacekeeping operations in 2006 were supported by uniformed personnel provided by 109 countries.

(source: UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations)


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