Aid worker 'killed unlawfully'

A UNITED Nations aid worker from Felixstowe shot dead after getting caught in crossfire between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli troops was "unlawfully killed", an inquest jury concluded.

A UNITED Nations aid worker from Felixstowe shot dead after getting caught in crossfire between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli troops was "unlawfully killed", an inquest jury concluded.

Iain Hook, 54, died as he tried to negotiate the rescue of his colleagues inside the West Bank refugee camp in Jenin, where he had been working for six weeks.

Mr Hook and fellow workers were trapped in the compound for several hours in November 2002 after Israeli defence forces entered Jenin.

Troops had surrounded the nearby hideout of a wanted Islamic Jihad leader suspected of masterminding a suicide bombing which had killed 14 people earlier in 2002.

Palestinian gunmen fired at the troops and the UN office was hit by a hail of bullets in the resulting gun battle.

Mr Hook was said to have been hit several times and died in an ambulance on his way to hospital.

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It was later reported that an Israeli soldier had admitted shooting Mr Hook after mistaking the aid worker's mobile telephone for a hand grenade.

Mr Hook was the head of a UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) project to rebuild the refugee camp, which was home to 13,000 Palestinian refugees. He had previously worked in Kosovo, East Timor and Afghanistan.

Paul Wolstenholme, an engineer and the only international witness to the shooting, told the inquest Mr Hook's killing was a “deliberate act”.

Dr Peter Hansen, who was commissioner-general of UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency) at the time, told the inquest at Ipswich Crown Court there should have been no doubt in the minds of Israeli soldiers that Mr Hook was obviously not a Palestinian and they had a written record that he worked in the camp.

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