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Last Updated: Friday, 17 November 2006, 01:11 GMT
Short urges action over shooting
by Nic Rigby
BBC News Interactive, Norwich

Iain Hook's UN identity card
Iain Hook was working for the UN when he was killed
Former cabinet minister Clare Short has called on the government to increase pressure to bring the killer of a British UN worker to justice.

Iain Hook, 54, of Felixstowe, Suffolk, a UN manager, was shot by an Israeli soldier in Jenin four years ago.

Ms Short MP, who headed up the International Development department, which funded Mr Hook's project, said a public apology was needed from Israel.

The government said it was looking at the case again following the inquest.

The inquest in December 2005 found Mr Hook, who was born in Essex, had been unlawfully killed.

This continues to be disputed by the Israeli Defence Force saying it was a "mistake which occurred in a battle zone"

Ms Short was Secretary of State for International Development when Mr Hook, a United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) manager, was shot.

She told BBC News the Israeli government gave a power-point presentation to the Foreign Office and the family.

Clare Short
Clare Short was Secretary of state for International Development

"Their account did not tally with everyone else's information. It was not a written report it was a presentation. It was very disappointing and internally inconsistent.

"The UK needs to carry on making recommendations and putting on pressure. It was not properly resolved at the time I left the government.

"Every single death is very, very serious but if open attacks on UN workers are allowed then no-one is safe. That's a reason for taking this very, very seriously."

She said four years after Mr Hook's death the government still needed to put pressure on the Israeli government to bring his killer to justice.

"I think the behaviour of the Israeli army is notorious in Palestine. So the UK Government owes it to the protection of its own nationals and it also needs to stand up for decent standards in a country it treats as an ally and ships military equipment to.

"It does not seem that anything on the public record was achieved. A private fudge is not good enough.

The UN compound
Iain Hook was shot in a UN compound in Jenin

"We have to get to the bottom of it. We have to have a full public apology and full compensation. We urgently need this.

"The point of making a fuss is not just for the family but also to protect other workers.

"It is outrageous that the US and UK are not more firmly against this behaviour by the Israeli armed forces."

At the inquest jurors unanimously agreed Mr Hook had been unlawfully killed.

Mr Hook was leading an UN project to rebuild the camp at Jenin, which was home to 13,000 Palestinian refugees.

Letter to PM

At the time of the shooting in November 2002, Israeli special forces had surrounded the hideout of a wanted Islamic Jihad leader - which was near the UN compound.

The inquest heard that Mr Hook was clearly in the compound - where there were no weapons - and there was no gunfire for up to 20 minutes before he was shot.

Coroner Dr Peter Dean said he was so concerned by the case and the fact 13 UN workers have died in Jenin that he wrote to Prime Minister Tony Blair.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said at the time of the Mr Hook's death there were extensive discussion between the government, Mr Hook's family and the Israeli government.

She said the government had received the letter from the coroner and was considering its contents.

A spokesman for the Israeli Defence Force said its inquiry found that as "no criminal act had been committed... no criminal charges were filed against any soldier involved".

He said Mr Hook's family "received compensation for the incident ex-gratia".

  • Ms Short has also been interviewed by the Politics Show in the East which will be shown at 1210 GMT on Sunday 19 November.

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