Suffolk man died after soldier's error

THE East Anglian United Nations worker killed in a West Bank refugee camp may have been shot dead after an Israeli soldier thought his mobile phone was a grenade, it has emerged.

THE East Anglian United Nations worker killed in a West Bank refugee camp may have been shot dead after an Israeli soldier thought his mobile phone was a grenade, it has emerged.

Iain Hook, 54, from Felixstowe Ferry, suffered several bullet wounds in the stomach after he was caught in the crossfire between the Israeli defence forces and Palestinian gunmen on Friday morning.

He and fellow UN workers became trapped after Israeli troops surrounded the nearby hideout of a wanted Islamic Jihad leader suspected of masterminding a suicide bombing which killed 14 people last month.

Palestinian gunmen fired at the troops and the UN office was caught in the middle of the resulting gun battle.

Witnesses at the scene said Mr Hook was trying to negotiate the release of his team from the refugee camp when he was shot and reported that his body lay in the road for 20 minutes. Mr Hook, who also used to live in George Street, Hadleigh, died in an ambulance on his way to hospital.

Local radio reports of an initial army investigation said that the soldier who fired the shots that hit Mr Hook thought he was about to throw a grenade at the troops, although an army spokesman later refused to comment.

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UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was also said to be "greatly disturbed" by other reports that the Israeli defence forces refused immediate access for an ambulance to take the injured man to hospital.

Mr Hook, who lived with his wife Cathy, had only been in the Middle East for a few weeks before he was killed. He was under contract for British firm Crown Agents and was the head of a UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) project to rebuild the refugee camp, which is home to some 13,000 Palestinian refugees.

After his death, tributes for Mr Hook poured in from British Government ministers, Israeli Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and UNRWA Commissioner General Peter Hansen.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and International Development Secretary Clare Short have promised a full investigation into the incident and a UN spokesman said Mr Hook's body would be taken to Jerusalem for an autopsy before being flown back to Britain.

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