UN Complicit in Jenin Massacre

Mohammad J Alam alam.m at neu.edu
Wed Aug 14 11:51:29 MDT 2002


Last week, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan released a
                        report on Israel's attack on Jenin in April. A
reminder of
                        the highlights: After two weeks of heavy fighting
in
                        Jenin's refugee camp, journalists and human rights
                        organisations (including Human Rights Watch and
                        Amnesty International), who visited Jenin,
unearthed
                        numerous accounts of atrocities. Some 150 houses
                        demolished, sometimes with their inhabitants
inside.
                        Civilians used as human shields. Extrajudicial
killings. A
                        Palestinian nurse in full uniform shot through the
heart
                        while trying to tend a wounded man. A
fourteen-year-old
                        shot dead by an Israeli tank while shopping. A
woman
                        killed when Israeli soldiers blew open the door of
her
                        house as she tried to open it for them. A man shot
dead in
                        his wheelchair. And so on.

                        That's the controversial part. Uncontroversial is
what
                        followed: UN Security Council unanimously adopted a
                        resolution to send a fact-finding team to Jenin
(19/4).
                        Israel promised to co-operate. Annan established a
                        fact-finding team and instructed it to proceed to
the area.
                        Now Israel expressed concerns related to the
composition
                        of the team, the scope of its mandate, how this
mandate
                        would be carried out, various procedural matters,
etc. etc.
                        Negotiations took place and Annan seemed to satisfy
                        Israel's demands. Finally (30.4), the Israeli
Cabinet
                        issued a statement saying that as long as its terms
have
                        not been met, "it will not be possible for the
clarification
                        process to begin." It didn't bother to say what
those terms
                        were; but on the phone with Annan, Israeli
officials
                        broached additional issues to those raised before
and
                        indicated that this list might not be exhaustive.
Following
                        this, Annan disbanded the team (3/5), ordered a
report
                        without visiting the scene, and addressed letters
to the
                        Israel and to the Palestinians, requesting them to
submit
                        relevant information. Israel didn't respond even to
this
                        request. All along, then, Israel's very conduct
clearly
                        indicated it had a lot to hide.

                        Now the UN finally released its report, based
entirely on
                        evidence from secondary sources, written
comfortably in
                        Geneva. Human rights groups immediately blamed the
                        report of being "seriously flawed"; Israel's
government,
                        naturally, welcomed it. The Independent noted that
the
                        report was "carefully worded not to give offence to
Israel
                        or its allies. It deliberately draws no
conclusions, but only
                        compiles evidence from various sources."

                        Whom Should We Trust?

                        Since we cannot deal here with all the issues at
stake,
                        let's examine just one: that of demolishing houses
with
                        their inhabitants inside. The UN report says:

                        "IDF also used armoured bulldozers, supported by
tanks,
                        to demolish portions of the camp. The Government of
                        Israel maintains that 'IDF forces only destroyed
                        structures after calling a number of times for
inhabitants
                        to leave buildings, and from which the shooting did
not
                        cease'. Witness testimonies and human rights
                        investigations allege that the destruction was both
                        disproportionate and indiscriminate, some houses
                        coming under attack from the bulldozers before
their
                        inhabitants had the opportunity to evacuate."

                        So were innocent inhabitants given time to leave,
or not?
                        The UN gives both sides equal space (24 words), and
                        takes no stand. Israel "maintains" they were,
whereas
                        witnesses (surely Palestinian) and human rights
                        investigations "allege" they were not.

                        Perhaps We Cannot Know?

                        Yes we can. We know very well. And the UN knows, or
                        could know, if it bothered to simply read Israel's
most
                        selling daily, Yedioth Achronot, on 31.5. Not a
very
                        clandestine source. An Israeli D-9 bulldozer
driver, one
                        Moshe Nissim from Jerusalem, described there in
detail
                        what he himself had done in Jenin. Here:

                        "For three days, I just destroyed and destroyed.
The whole
                        area. Any house that they fired from came down. And
to
                        knock it down, I tore down some more. They were
                        warned by loudspeaker to get out of the house
before I
                        come, but I gave no one a chance. I didn't wait. I
didn't
                        give one blow, and wait for them to come out. I
would just
                        ram the house with full power, to bring it down as
fast as
                        possible. I wanted to get to the other houses. To
get as
                        many as possible.

REST: http://www.antiwar.com/hacohen/h-col.html


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