Israeli envoy to pass on Irish concerns

Wednesday 26 July 2006 22.42
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Minister for Foreign Affairs - Conveyed Irish concerns
Minister for Foreign Affairs - Conveyed Irish concerns
Munier Zabed - Re-united with children
Munier Zabed - Re-united with children

The Israeli Ambassador Daniel Megiddo has said he will pass the Irish Government's concerns about the situation in south Lebanon to his government.

Speaking after a 40 minute meeting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, and the Minister for Defence, Willie O'Dea, Mr Megiddo said the killing of four UN troops yesterday was 'an accident' but that it had happened in a war zone.

Afterwards Mr Ahern said that the Irish officer acting as liaison between the UN and the Israeli defence forces had warned them six times that their shelling was too close to UN positions.

He said the deaths were the result either of an incredible accident or of deliberate targeting.

Mr O'Dea said the morale of the Irish troops in Lebanon was high and that there was no question of withdrawing them at present but that an international peacekeeping force could not be deployed in the area until there was a ceasefire.

One Irish soldier was based at the Khiam observation post up to 48 hours before the air strike.

Mr O'Dea has discussed the safety of the Irish troops with the Army Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Jim Sreenan, and the senior Irish officer in Lebanon, Lieutenant Colonel John Molloy.

Lebanese children arrive in Dublin

Earlier the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, said he was appalled by the UN deaths and condemned the continuing use by Israel of reckless and disproportionate force.

In a separate development, the two Lebanese children whose father holds an Irish passport have arrived back in Ireland after being evacuated from the bombed southern port city of Tyre.

Gradier and Ali Zabed, aged five and seven, arrived in Dublin Airport shortly after 8am this morning and were reunited with their father, Munier, who has been living in Kilkenny for the past two years.