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UN Disputes Israeli Explanation of Death of UN Worker in West Bank


The United Nations is disputing Israel's version of the events that lead to the shooting death of a U.N. official Friday in the West Bank.

The United Nations has challenged Israel's main defense for killing Iain Hook, a British U.N. official in the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin.

The world organization disputes Israel's contention that its soldiers were fired upon Friday by Palestinian gunmen from a U.N. camp in Jenin.

The Israeli Army said this led to soldiers firing back and killing Mr. Hook by mistake.

A spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), Paul McCann, said the army's claim that Palestinian gunmen were inside the compound at the time is false.

He says the preliminary investigation by the U.N. agency indicates that it would be "totally incredible" to make such a claim.

Mr. Hook was killed while trying to evacuate staff members from the small U.N. compound, made of mobile trailers. The Israel army says it mistook an object that Mr. Hook was holding in his hand - possibly a mobile telephone - for a weapon.

The U.N. relief agency said in a statement that Israeli troops had prevented an ambulance from gaining immediate access to the area. The Israel army insists that Mr. Hook was evacuated as soon as possible.

Meanwhile in Bethlehem, Israeli troops maintained a tight grip on the city, after a Palestinian suicide bomber from the area killed 11 people Thursday on a bus in Jerusalem.

The Israeli army says it has arrested three Palestinians planning suicide attacks and 31 other wanted Palestinians in the city since the operation began Friday.

Palestinian officials say Israeli troops also entered the West Bank city of Qalqilyah and imposed a curfew.