26 November 2002
The United Nations has refuted Israeli claims that a slain aid worker managing a UN project in the West Bank was killed amid gunfire.
“Our preliminary findings into the circumstances surrounding the death of Iain Hook in Jenin do not concur with the statement made by the Israeli military that firing had been coming out of the UNRWA compound in Jenin,” the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in a statement on Sunday.
“It is quite clear to UNRWA at this stage that such a report of live fire from the compound is totally incredible,” the Agency said.
Mr. Hook, a British national who had been managing the Jenin camp rehabilitation project, was trapped for several hours in the UNRWA office compound after the IDFï¿½s entry into the area sparked a prolonged armed clash. The Agency said the Israeli Defence Force initially refused immediate access for an ambulance that had been summoned by UNRWA, and he died of a gunshot wound before reaching the hospital.
Meanwhile, the UN Staff Union today voiced its outrage over the attack, releasing a statement in New York protesting the increased violence directed against humanitarian personnel working for UNRWA, and demanding an immediate and full investigation of Mr. Hook’s death.
According to the statement, three UNRWA staff members have died in the last eight months. “In addition, as reported by the Secretary-General, on many occasions over the last year, UN staff has been increasingly delayed, harassed, detained, beaten and attacked,” the Union recalled, calling on him to “demand justice.”
“These incidents once again serve as a tragic reminder of the innumerable risks undertaken daily by United Nations staff across the globe,” the Union said, extending its sympathy to the families and colleagues of the victims.