Jonathan Cook: the View from Nazareth - www.jonathan-cook.net

UN accused of stalling on inquiry into Briton’s death

The Guardian – 2 December 2002
 
The United Nations has been accused of downgrading, or even trying to bury, an investigation into the killing of one of its British workers, Iain Hook, in Jenin refugee camp 10 days ago. Sources say the UN is worried the inquiry could lead to a further deterioration in its bruised relations with Israel and the US.
 
A diplomatic source said that, despite UN statements describing as “totally incredible” Israeli claims that there were Palestinian gunmen in the compound where Hook was shot, the final report of the UN inquiry was being delayed and “may not be publicised at all”.
 
The source said that the UN depended on cooperation from Israel and the US in the future, and much of its funding came from Washington.
 
“I sense the inquiry into Iain Hook’s death is being downgraded,” the source said.
 
Israel’s foreign minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, last week promised Britain’s foreign secretary, Jack Straw, its own inquiry into the death of Hook, 54, of Felixstowe, Suffolk.
 
A UN investigator from New York is trying to reconstruct events leading to Hook’s shooting in the back by an Israeli sniper. He will also examine why a UN ambulance was delayed from reaching Hook for up to 25 minutes by the army.
 
The inquiry has revealed dramatic new information, say diplomatic sources. Hook, apparently frustrated by the army’s failure to negotiate a ceasefire with Palestinian gunmen in the area, left the secure compound at one point and went to talk with soldiers in a Jeep parked close to the site.
 
Eyewitnesses say that as Hook stepped out of the gate, holding aloft a blue UN flag, a Palestinian gunman ran from an alleyway and used him as human shield to fire on the Jeep. The incident lasted only seconds and no one was hurt.
 
But it is possible that the incident may have left some Israeli soldiers with the impression that there were gunmen hiding inside the compound.
 
Another Briton in the compound, Paul Wolstenholme, has told investigators that at no point did gunmen enter the compound or shoot from it.
 
His story is confirmed by the last message from Hook to UN headquarters in Jerusalem five minutes before his death, in which he said he had persuaded the youths outside the compound to leave the area.
 
Witnesses report that there was no gunfire in the area for “tens of minutes” before Hook was shot.

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