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Monday, 25 November, 2002, 11:41 GMT
UN investigates Jenin official's killing
Iain Hook's UN identification card
Mr Hook is the first UN official killed in the intifada
The United Nations has begun an investigation into the killing of a British aid worker by Israeli soldiers in Jenin last week.

A UN investigator has arrived in the West Bank town to examine the circumstances of the killing of Iain John Hook, 54, a project manager for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

We know how many people were inside, and there were no militants there

Paul McCann, UNRWA spokesman

The UN has challenged the Israeli army's account of the incident, which claimed Israeli soldiers returned fire after shots were fired from the UNRWA compound in Jenin.

Mr Hook died on his way to hospital, and doctors said he had two gunshot wounds in the abdomen.

UN's accusations

After an internal inquiry, the army said on Saturday that, "in the UNRWA compound, from which shooting was coming, two IDF soldiers identified a man holding an object that looked like a pistol. As a result, they fired towards the man, injuring him".

There have been suggestions Mr Hook may have been carrying a mobile phone at the time he was shot.

The UN has already expressed serious concerns about the killing and accused Israel of delaying an ambulance which was trying to reach the man - possibly preventing his life being saved.

A symbolic stretcher with the UN flag, carried by Palestinian's marking Mr Hook's death
Mr Hook was named one of the martyrs of the Palestinian people
A UNRWA spokesman in Israel said the compound - which consisted of three trailers with a fence around them - was clearly marked as belonging to the UN.

The spokesman, Paul McCann, said there was no shooting from inside the protected UN compound.

"We know how many people were inside, and there were no militants there," Mr McCann told the BBC.

Mr Hook, from Felixstowe, Suffolk, is said to be the first UN official killed in the current Palestinian uprising. Two Palestinians working for UNRWA were also killed during the Israeli operation.

Israel said it raided Jenin early on Friday morning because it had information that a wanted Palestinian militant inside the camp was planning a suicide bombing in Israel.

Child killed

The Israeli army has been attempting to stop suspected Palestinian militants from using sites belonging to the UN and the church as refuges.

During its latest operation, soldiers blocked access to the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem - the site of a six-week siege earlier this year.

On Monday, the Israeli army was said to have withdrawn to the fringes of Bethlehem after reoccupying the West Bank city for three days and arresting dozens of suspected Palestinian militants.

The death toll continued to rise on Monday when an eight-year-old Palestinian boy was shot dead in Nablus by the Israeli soldiers

Jihad Faqih was hit in the chest as the army patrol fired at a group of stone-throwing Palestinian youngsters.

'Martyr'

Mr Hook's two sons arrived from London on Sunday, accompanied by UN and British embassy officials.

They were shown around the complex where their father died before going on to Jenin hospital.

Mr Hook's body was then taken by convoy to Tel Aviv.

His family have yet to decide whether the autopsy will take place in Israel or the UK.

On Friday, Israel's Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telephoned Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to express his regrets about the incident.

Palestinian authorities said the responsibility for the killing lay entirely with the Israeli government and named Mr Hook one of the martyrs of the Palestinian people.


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