From PRO IUNVA
At 0504 hours of Monday 31 May 1999, Pte William (Billy) Kedian (21), C Coy, 85 Inf Bn was killed by shrapnel when an 81 mm mortar round exploded in post 6-42 Brashit. Two mortar rounds had been fired from the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and De Facto Forces (DFF) Compound W144. The first round exploded 15 Meters outside the post perimeter, the second round exploded within the post. Two other members of the Post were wounded, Pte Ronnie Rushe (23), from Castledaly, Boggadh, Co Offaly was seriously wounded and Pte Darren Clarke (19) from Swinford Co Mayo received less serious injuries in the same attack. The IDF claimed that the IDF – DFF position had come under fire from armed elements.
Pte Rushe was initially treated at Ram Bam Hospital in Haifa and on 2 Aug, he was flown by special air ambulance to Dublin for treatment at St Vincent’s Hospital.
The attack was strongly protested by UNIFIL HQ to the Israeli Defence Forces who undertook to conduct an investigation at the highest level. A formal letter of protest was lodged by UNIFIL with the Israeli Defence Forces on 2 June. The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, condemned the attack. UN HQ summoned the Israeli Permanent Representative to the UN and delivered a strong protest.
Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs summoned Zvi Gabay, the Israeli ambassador to Ireland on 1 June to express great concern at the loss of life and serious injury to Irish peacekeeping personnel and to protest the incident of 31 May in the strongest possible terms. In response, the Israeli ambassador regretted the loss of life and injury and undertook to report to his authorities.
Pte Kedian was survived by his parents, Bill and Doris, his sisters, Mary and Anne-Marie, he was the only son and youngest of the three children. He was from Station Rd, Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo and he joined the DF in Dec 1996 after he completed his secondary education at the local community college. He was on his second tour of duty with UNIFIL and his home unit was 1 Cn Cois at Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa, Galway.
His body was flown home on Friday 4 Jun and it was brought to Knock Airport by Air Corps aircraft.
On Saturday 5 Jun 1999, he was buried with full military honours at Ballyhaunis Cemetery following Requiem Mass at St Patrick’s Church. The President, Mrs Mary McAleese, the Minister for Defence, Michael Smith, and the COS, Lt Gen David Stapleton attended the funeral.
Canon Joseph Cooney PP, described Pte Kedian as an idealistic young man who had given his life so that others could enjoy peace and freedom. He said that his town was immensely proud of him and extended its heartfelt sympathy to his grieving parents.
Go dtuga Dia suaimhneas sioraí dó.
Photo Pte Billy Kedian, credit Military Archives