UN Report on Israel's Bombing of the United Nations Compound at Qana, Lebanon
LETTER DATED 7 MAY 1996 FROM THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ADDRESSED TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL
I have the honour to transmit to members of the Security Council the report submitted to me by my Military Adviser, Major-General Franklin van Kappen, following his mission to Lebanon and Israel. My decision to send the mission was taken in the light of the tragic events that took place at Qana on 18 April 1996, in which more than 100 Lebanese civilians were killed in the headquarters of the Fijian battalion of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Members of the Council will note that the mission sought to establish, to the extent possible, the facts surrounding those events. General van Kappen had extensive discussions with UNIFIL commanders, Lebanese and Israeli authorities, and eyewitnesses. As indicated in the report, while the possibility cannot be ruled out completely, the pattern of impacts in the Qana area makes it unlikely that the shelling of the United Nations compound was the result of technical and/or procedural errors. For their part, the Israel Defence Forces maintain that the incident was due to a sequence of operational mistakes and technical failures, compounded by chance.
I view with utmost gravity the shelling of the Fijian position, as I would hostilities directed against any United Nations peace-keeping position. But this incident is all the more serious because civilians, including women and children, had sought refuge in the United Nations compound at Qana.
I welcome the cease-fire agreement announced on 26 April 1996, and it is my earnest hope that the restoration of calm in the area will enhance the prospects for negotiations leading to a comprehensive peace settlement which would preclude further tragic events. In the meantime, I have instructed the Force Commander of UNIFIL, Major-General Stanislaw Wozniak, to enhance cooperation with the Government of Lebanon and the Lebanese Armed Forces in maintaining peace and stability in UNIFIL's area of operation. I have also given instructions for arrangements to be worked out with the Israeli authorities to see to it that United Nations positions in Lebanon are not fired upon in the future.
It remains of the greatest importance that the parties to this conflict should ensure that innocent civilians do not become victims of the hostilities.
In view of the seriousness of the events at Qana, I have decided to transmit the report to the Security Council.
(signed) Boutros BOUTROS-GHALI --