United Nations (Feb. 10)
Secretary General Kurt Waldheim said today that he “deeply regrets” that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had accused Israeli soldiers of mutilating the bodies of five Palestinian terrorists killed on Dec. 25 and said that the UNIFIL’s charges were based on “incorrect statement of the facts.”
In a statement read by a UN spokesman here, Waldheim said that he received the report of the Board of Inquiry he appointed Jan. 15 to investigate the conflicting accounts of Israel and UNIFIL concerning the incident. “After intensive investigation, the Board has concluded that it has not found evidence to support the account contained in the UNIFIL “version of the incident, Waldheim declared.
“The Board believes,” Waldheim continued, “that distance, angle and observation, smoke resulting from the explosions when the Israel Defense Force soldiers blew up the ammunition and equipment of the Palestinian armed elements, and the prevailing tension all contributed to the Dutch soldiers of UNIFIL reporting what they thought they had seen, rather than what had actually occurred.”
But Waldheim added that “The Board unanimously agreed, however, that the UNIFIL soldiers had no intention of deliberately making incorrect statements.”
Israel, which denied from the start the allegations of mistreating the bodies of the five dead Palestinian terrorists, issued a brief statement at the UN today which said:
“We are satisifed that the Board of Inquiry has carried out its task. We are also pleased to note that in its report submitted to the Secretary General and published today, Israel’s position was fully vindicated. We are still studying the report in depth and we will be in a position to offer more detailed comment later.”
The full text of the Board of Inquiry report was not available to the press today.
The Board of Inquiry was composed of Brigodier-General Stig Waldenstrom of Sweden, the Chief Military Observer of the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan; and Colonel Osmo Karanka of Finland and Lieutenant-Colonel Brian Hanly of Canada, both of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights.