Annan urges Israel to investigate killing of UN aid worker in West Bank
“The Secretary-General is saddened and distressed by the death of Mr. Kamal Hamdan, a staff member of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA),” said a statement released by Mr. Annan’s spokesman Thursday evening.
Mr. Hamdan, who was killed yesterday when an UNRWA ambulance he was riding in near the West Bank came under fire by Israeli soldiers, was the first UN staff casualty since the current violence between Israelis and Palestinians began in September 2000.
Deploring the killing, the Secretary-General appealed to the Israeli Government to “thoroughly investigate the incident and to take the necessary action against those responsible.” The statement also noted that the death of a UN staff member had occurred despite repeated letters of protest from UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen to the Israeli Government about the damage sustained by UNRWA facilities as a result of earlier attacks by Israeli Defence Forces against Palestinian targets.
The Secretary-General said the victim’s tragic death “serves as graphic reminder of the need for the parties to respect international humanitarian law and provide security for all civilians, including the staff of international and non-governmental organizations active in the region,” according to the statement, which also conveyed condolences to Mr. Hamdan’s family.