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July 26, 2006
Harper Says UNIFIL Attack Not Deliberate, General Explains Why

Two figures of Canadian leadership came forward today in opposition to Kofi Annan's assertion that Israel deliberately targeted a UNIFIL position, resulting in four deaths, including one Canadian soldier. PM Stephen Harper told reporters that he thought the attack had been a mistake, and retired Major General Lewis MacKenzie told CBC that the Canadian soldier who was killed in the attack complained that Hezbollah exploited their position as a shield:

“I certainly doubt that to be the case given that the government of Israel has been co-operating with us in our evacuation efforts and our attempts to move Canadian citizens out of Lebanon and also trying to keep our own troops that are on the ground involved in the evacuation out of harm's way,” Mr. Harper said.

“I seriously doubt that but we obviously want to get information.”

He said Ottawa now wants to know why the UN post was attacked and why it remained occupied during “what is now more or less a war.”

Meanwhile, Gen. MacKenzie gave a radio interview which gave a little more clarity to the situation on the ground near UNIFIL (via It Shines For All and a number of CQ readers):

"...the tragic loss of a soldier yesterday who I happen to know and I think probably is from my Regiment. We've received e-mails from him a few days ago and he described the fact that he was taking within - in one case -- three meters of his position "for tactical necessity - not being targeted". Now that's veiled speech in the military and what he was telling us was Hizbullah fighters were all over his position and the IDF were (sic) targeting them and that's a favorite trick by people who don't have representation in the UN. They use the UN as shields knowing that they can't be punished for it."

Retired Canadian Major General Lewis MacKenzie interviewed on CBC Toronto radio 26 July 2006

The interview can be heard at this link. Oddly, the CBC itself didn't bother to include that information in its own reporting on the story. Meanwhile, Kofi Annan said he "accepted" the explanation of Ehud Olmert that the attack had been an error and not a deliberate strike at the UN. Given this development, one wonders why he would have jumped to his conclusions so quickly.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 26, 2006 6:27 PM

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