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
the highlights: After two weeks of heavy fighting
Jenin's refugee camp, journalists and human rights
organisations (including Human Rights Watch and
Amnesty International), who visited Jenin,
numerous accounts of atrocities. Some 150 houses
demolished, sometimes with their inhabitants
Civilians used as human shields. Extrajudicial
Palestinian nurse in full uniform shot through the
while trying to tend a wounded man. A
shot dead by an Israeli tank while shopping. A
killed when Israeli soldiers blew open the door of
house as she tried to open it for them. A man shot
his wheelchair. And so on.
That's the controversial part. Uncontroversial is
followed: UN Security Council unanimously adopted a
resolution to send a fact-finding team to Jenin
Israel promised to co-operate. Annan established a
fact-finding team and instructed it to proceed to
Now Israel expressed concerns related to the
of the team, the scope of its mandate, how this
would be carried out, various procedural matters,
Negotiations took place and Annan seemed to satisfy
Israel's demands. Finally (30.4), the Israeli
issued a statement saying that as long as its terms
not been met, "it will not be possible for the
process to begin." It didn't bother to say what
were; but on the phone with Annan, Israeli
broached additional issues to those raised before
indicated that this list might not be exhaustive.
this, Annan disbanded the team (3/5), ordered a
without visiting the scene, and addressed letters
Israel and to the Palestinians, requesting them to
relevant information. Israel didn't respond even to
request. All along, then, Israel's very conduct
indicated it had a lot to hide.
Now the UN finally released its report, based
evidence from secondary sources, written
Geneva. Human rights groups immediately blamed the
report of being "seriously flawed"; Israel's
naturally, welcomed it. The Independent noted that
report was "carefully worded not to give offence to
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
let's examine just one: that of demolishing houses
their inhabitants inside. The UN report says:
"IDF also used armoured bulldozers, supported by
to demolish portions of the camp. The Government of
Israel maintains that 'IDF forces only destroyed
structures after calling a number of times for
to leave buildings, and from which the shooting did
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
inhabitants had the opportunity to evacuate."
So were innocent inhabitants given time to leave,
The UN gives both sides equal space (24 words), and
takes no stand. Israel "maintains" they were,
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
selling daily, Yedioth Achronot, on 31.5. Not a
clandestine source. An Israeli D-9 bulldozer
Moshe Nissim from Jerusalem, described there in
what he himself had done in Jenin. Here:
"For three days, I just destroyed and destroyed.
area. Any house that they fired from came down. And
knock it down, I tore down some more. They were
warned by loudspeaker to get out of the house
come, but I gave no one a chance. I didn't wait. I
give one blow, and wait for them to come out. I
ram the house with full power, to bring it down as
possible. I wanted to get to the other houses. To
many as possible.
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