'How could phone be mistaken for gun?'

A RETIRED high-ranking official with a relief organisation expressed his amazement that a soldier could apparently mistake a mobile phone held by Suffolk aid worker Iain Hook as a gun.

A RETIRED high-ranking official with a relief organisation expressed his amazement that a soldier could apparently mistake a mobile phone held by Suffolk aid worker Iain Hook as a gun.

Mr Hook, 54, from Felixstowe, was shot dead three years ago by an Israeli sniper overlooking a refugee camp where the aid worker was organising the evacuation of his staff.

He was project manager at the United Nations (UN) camp in the West Bank town of Jenin where he was assisting in the rebuilding of hundreds of homes destroyed in Israeli operations.

Paul Wolstenholme, an engineer and the only international witness to the shooting, has told Mr Hook's inquest it 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.

He said there were no weapons in the compound, in which the letters UN were written in large letters and the UN flag flew, and Mr Hook was not armed.

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Dr Hansen said: “The Israelis claimed that the person was holding a gun in his hand. Now, looking through an optical system at 25 to 30 metres distance, it is fairly difficult to image how a small mobile phone can be mistaken for a gun.

“He (the sniper) would have fired more than one shot but the shot that hit was a single one.”

The jury of seven women and four men was shown photographs illustrating the compound and the surrounding area with houses. One of the houses was used by a sniper to shoot Mr Hook.

Mr Hansen told the jury: “It is very difficult to sit here and imagine life there as it is in occupied territory and refugee camps.

“Unfortunately the killing of Iain Hook was not the only killing of UNRWA staff. Thirteen, including Iain Hook, of the people working for me were killed, some were killed in brutal circumstances.

“This is the only case of a killing where the quest of finding the truth has been consistently pursued.”

Mr Hook, formerly of George Street, Hadleigh, had tried to raise the spirits of his staff, frightened by gunfire outside the compound, by telling them jokes. He was not wearing a flak jacket when he was shot in the back.

Peter Dean, the coroner for greater Suffolk, will visit the Foreign Office in London today to analyse a secret report prepared by the IDF and if it contains new information relevant to the inquiry he will release details to the jury. Mr Hook's family has seen the report.

The inquest is due to resume tomorrow when the jury will be asked to give their verdict. Dr Dean has indicated that a verdict of unlawful killing will be among the options under consideration.

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