Because I'm still too angry to post on this
The attack on the UN post in south Lebanon is a very sinister development, writes Tom Clonan
Tuesday's destruction by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) of the UN observation post at Khiam (OP Khiam) - occupied just 48 hours prior to the attack by Irish officers - is a very sinister development in the conflict in Lebanon and raises serious questions about the integrity and intent of Israeli military commanders in the area.
Any objective inquiry - however cursory - by the UN or the IDF into OP Khiam's destruction and the death of four unarmed UN observers deployed there will of necessity bring IDF claims that the destruction was "accidental" under sceptical and hostile scrutiny.
The UN OP at Khiam, like all UN positions in south Lebanon was very clearly identifiable as a UN post. It would have had the letters "UN" clearly painted - several feet high - on the north, south, east and west facing blast-walls and sides of the compound.
The UN designation would also have been clearly visible on the roof of the white-painted installation. This lettering would have been clear to the naked eye for many miles around the Khiam compound.
In addition, as an OP, Khiam - sited on high ground - would have been a very prominent, high-visibility feature on the landscape. Having been in situ for at least three decades, OPs such as Khiam are referred to by the military as "Known Points" or "KPs".
UN posts such as OP Khiam have served as visual reference points in south Lebanon for UN troops as well as Hizbullah fighters and the IDF for almost 30 years. As a consequence, all such UN posts are clearly marked on UN and IDF tactical maps of the area, and are considered to be invaluable visual aides for the orientation of ground and airborne units in the vicinity.
At night, all UN posts are illuminated by searchlight powered by diesel generators located within the positions. During the current shelling, with most villages and the surrounding countryside in complete darkness, the UN posts are all the more clearly identifiable as the only illuminated structures in the area.
In addition, all IDF artillery units have 12-figure grid references for each UN position.
All Israeli Air Force squadrons would have similar detailed information on UN locations to include both grid references and electronically programmed GPS co-ordinates.
Having adjusted and bracketed missile and shell fire into this terrain for the past 30 years - from ground, sea and air - the IDF are fully aware, to the nearest metre, the exact location of each UN post in south Lebanon.
From eyewitness accounts, it would appear that OP Khiam was destroyed from the air - most likely by a F-16 fighter deploying a laser-guided 1,000kg bomb. During the previous 48 hours, OP Khiam had reported at least 14 "firings close" or direct hits on its position from Israeli forces. These incidents were brought to the attention of the IDF and emphasised by UN Force Commander Gen Alain Pellegrini to his Israeli military counterparts.
To claim - as the Israelis are currently claiming - that this attack was accidental stretches credibility to breaking point. The deliberate targeting of such a high profile and clearly identifiable UN post - the eyes and ears of the international community in south Lebanon - by guided missile, speaks of another agenda. This agenda is perhaps to drive the UN out of its OPs and to blind the international community to IDF activities in south Lebanon.
Dr Tom Clonan is The Irish Times Security Analyst. He lectures in the School of Media, DIT
© The Irish Times
(Tom Clonan is a former Captain in the Irish Defence Forces, and as such almost certainly is familiar with south Lebanon and UNIFIL - EWI)