Since Lewis Mackenzie's CBC appearance yesterday morning, many Conservative commentators have been pushing the line that the ill-fated U.N. outpost was hit by the Israelis because the area was being used as cover by Hezbollah. However, Timur Goksel, a veteran peacekeeper who spent years acting as a liaison between the UNIFIL observer mission in south Lebanon and the Israeli army, disagrees with this assessment:
[Goksel] dismissed the possibility that it was Lebanon's Hezbollah militia that had placed the UN position in danger by using the area around the Khiyam observation post to fire rockets into Israel.
He said that since UNIFIL's mandate is to immediately report any cross-border military activity, firing from near Khiyam would result in Israel immediately knowing where Hezbollah was firing from.
The Globe Story this quote is from also gives an interesting insight into the history of UNIFIL/IDF relations. Once, in less partisan times, some in the IDF had an appreciation for the job U.N. observers were performing.
And, finally, a word about the now famous e-mail MacKenzie references. It ends as follows:
This [the Israeli shelling] has not been deliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity.
Mackenzie interprets this as indicating that previous Israeli near-misses were aimed at Hezbollah targets near the obsrvation post, and his reading has been taken up by the Conservative media (for example here) as meaning that the Israelis were going after Hezbollah targets on the day the outpost was obliterated.
Well, firstly, a lot of this rides on Mackenzie's interpretation of the "veiled language", and I would certainly like to get a second opinion on what Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener meant by the line in question. Secondly, this does not prove anything about the day of the fatal attack, written as it was a week previous. The second attack consisted of about six to eight hours of shelling, and then a couple of laser guided bombs to finish the place off, and then more shelling when U.N. soldiers from India came around to dig out the bodies. to me, that still doesn't look accidental.