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After UNIFIL Peacekeeper Killed, Mere Elements to the Press Then Spanish PR

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 28 -- After a UN Peacekeeper from Spain was killed in Lebanon, UN Peacekeeping deputy Edmond Mulet briefed the UN Security Council. Afterward the output was "elements to the press," followed by Spanish Permanent Representative Oyurzun Marchesi's first stakeout since joining the Security Council four weeks ago.

  Will an internal UN investigation be enough for Spain? The question was not taken or answered, yet.

  An hour before, Mulet told the Press that a UNIFIL "Board of Inquiry" will look into the death, and that its report will be public.

  Inner City Press asked Mulet how long it would taken. Mulet said UNIFIL has been asked to expedite the Board of Inquiry.

  We note that UNlike the head of UN Peacekeeping, Herve Ladsous, who refuses to answer Press questions (most recent video here) Mulet did his job, answering factual questions about UN Peacekeeping. Maybe he should be in charge.

  Earlier on the afternoon of January 28, the US State Department's spokesperson put this out:

"The United States strongly condemns Hezbollah’s attack today from Lebanon on Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in blatant violation of the cease fire between Lebanon and Israel and UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which called for the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks.  We support Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense and continue to urge all parties to respect the Blue Line between Israel and Lebanon.  We urge all parties to refrain from any action that could escalate the situation.

"We are deeply concerned by reports of injuries and casualties on both sides of the Blue Line, including the reported deaths of IDF soldiers and the death of a Spanish UN peacekeeper from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).  We extend our sincere condolences to the victims’ families.  We also stand with UNIFIL as it fulfills its important mandate to maintain peace and security along the Blue Line.

"Hezbollah continues to incite violence and instability inside Lebanon by attacking Israel and by its presence and fighting inside Syria, which violates Lebanese leaders’ agreed policy of dissociating Lebanon from foreign conflicts."

  But who killed the UN peacekeeper? And what are the UNIFIL Mission's rules of engagement? Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesperson, video here.

And there will be a briefing by UN Peacekeeping's elusive - we're being diplomatic - chief Herve Ladsous. (Here's video of his last appearance.)

The reports from Lebanon were that Israeli Defense Forces killed the peacekeeper. This raised the stakes for, and some questions about, the United Nations.

   Recently when UN peacekeepers in northern Mali were fired at -- none killed in the incident -- UN Peacekeeping responded with air strikes from attack helicopters, killing five.  Is this only how UN Peacekeeping respond to its personnel being fired at in Africa, or only in Mali?

   Inner City Press asked the Spanish Mission to the UN if there is any UN Security Council statement being worked on. They responded, it is being worked on right now.

  How will it address who is responsible for the killing? Killing a UN peacekeeper, the Security Council has often said, can be a war crime.

Footnote: While awaiting response to written questions Inner City Press put to the UNIFIL's top four spokespeople, for now they still compare favorably to the UN's mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, whose spokeswoman Sophie Boutaud de la Combe has put many UN Headquarters-based media on the mission's press e-mail list, but has refused as to Inner City Press, which closely covers not only cholera in Haiti but also the UN peacekeepers there, as in Mali, firing at protesters.

  The Mali mission at least sends out statements; from MINUSTAH we have only silence. This is the Ladsousification of the UN -- see most recent footage of Ladsous, refusing Press questions about the DR Congo, here. We'll have more on all of this.


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