Vienna, 15 September 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "We want full clarification of this tragic incident"


Austria still waiting for official reaction and UN report on bombardment of UN observation post in southern Lebanon

Vienna, 15 September 2006 - "I have constantly and repeatedly called for a full and complete clarification of the circumstances that led to the tragic death of Major Hans-Peter Lang, both vis-à-vis Israel and within the framework of the UN. On the day after this terrible incident at the end of July my Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni already gave me her personal assurance that there would be an appropriate investigation into the bombardment of the UN observation post in Khiam. I therefore welcome the fact that the Israeli government has now finally carried out this official inquiry", said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik.

In a comprehensive technical briefing in Tel Aviv yesterday, the Israeli army accepted responsibility for the bombardment of the UN observation post in Khiam at the end of July. According to the account given by the Israeli army to the embassies and military attachés of the affected states, the bombardment of the well-marked post, in which the Austrian UN observer Major Hans-Peter Lang was among those killed, had not been deliberate, but had occurred due to an operational error resulting from a chain of unfortunate circumstances.

"I spoke to Foreign Minister Livni personally this week. In our telephone call she expressed the deep regrets of the Israeli government and apologised for this tragic incident", emphasised Plassnik.

The Foreign Minister stressed that it was not yet clear whether the results of the Israeli army's official inquiry would also provide a concrete explanation of the course and cause of the events leading to the death of Major Lang. "We will be examining the results of the inquiry very carefully. We are also awaiting the report of the UN investigation commission in order to obtain a full picture. What we want is a full clarification of this tragic incident", said Plassnik.

A specially appointed UN commission has also investigated the attack on the UN observation post and is currently working on its report, which is due for completion within the next few weeks.

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