Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Israel-Explanation for Death of Military Observer Major Paeta Derek Hess-von Kruedener

Hon. Hugh Segal:

"My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Nearly two years ago, Kingston resident Canadian Forces Major Paeta Derek Hess-von Kruedener was killed when an Israeli 500-pound bomb hit his United Nations observation post in South Lebanon. This particular bunker, which had stood in the same spot for more than 60 years, was destroyed on July 25, 2006, after repeated requests to Israeli military officials by those in the bunker and their commanders to cease fire and repeated radio contact providing precise coordinates.

The Israelis, to their credit, have admitted it was a targeting error and, at the highest levels, expressed regret. However, the Canadian Board of Military Inquiry called the deaths of Major Hess-von Kruedener and the others ‘preventable’ and concluded that the Israeli military was solely responsible for the deaths.

My question to the minister is two-fold: Have the Israeli authorities been formally contacted to explain their reason for the lack of cooperation in making the pilots available for questioning by Canadian Forces Board of Inquiry personnel? Has the Canadian ambassador to Tel Aviv used his offices to press for responses to the continuing unanswered questions; and third and finally, has the UN or Canada sought compensation from the Israelis for what was either an act of omission, or commission, which needlessly killed a brave Canadian military observer deployed by our forces in support of United Nations’ efforts in the region?"

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)):

"I thank the honourable senator for the question. The death of Major Hess-von Kruedener was a great tragedy, there is no doubt about that. We, of course, honour his service to the country and his memory, along with the three others who lost their lives at the same time. As the honourable senator knows, Major Hess-von Kruedener was honoured by the military in Canada at a military ceremony in Trenton.

As the honourable senator has said, the Canadian Forces did convene a board of inquiry to investigate the incident. It has released its report, which is publicly available on the department’s website.

I am told that the president of the inquiry board maintained contact with the major’s family throughout the whole process. Canadian officials have met with Israeli officials regarding the incident and have subsequently been briefed by Israeli officials on the outcome of their investigation. We have provided the Israeli government with a copy of the report of the Department of National Defence on the findings of the board of inquiry. Canada is working with its partners at the United Nations to ensure that steps are taken to prevent similar incidents from occurring where United Nations personnel are deployed. With regard to compensation, I am not aware of any particular effort but I will take that portion of the question as notice."