Israel accepts UN mission to Jenin

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 20 Apr 2002 14:36:20 +0100

MessageIsrael accepts UN mission to Jenin

 Israel has said there will be no constraints on the United Nations 
fact-finding team which is to look into what happened during Israel's military 
operation in the West Bank town of Jenin. 
Foreign ministry spokesman Gideon Meir said the Israeli army could provide 
evidence that it did all it could to minimise casualties in Jenin's refugee 

The Palestinians, who say hundreds of civilians were killed and some buried in 
mass graves, welcomed the UN mission as a step forward - but insisted that an 
international peace-keeping force should be sent too. 

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on Friday to send the mission - but 
after heavy diplomatic pressure from the US and Israel it cannot be described 
as an investigation. 

Continuing their partial withdrawal from the West Bank, Israeli forces pulled 
out of Jenin on Friday, but fresh violence erupted in the Gaza Strip. 

Dangerous debris 

The Jenin camp was the scene of the fiercest fighting during Israel's military 
operation, and many buildings were reduced to rubble. 

      Click here to see town-by-town update 


Palestinians say hundreds were killed but the Israeli army denies this. It says 
about 70 Palestinians died - most of them gunmen. 

Efforts were being stepped up on Saturday to clear the debris, as residents dug 
through the rubble to salvage belongings and recover bodies. 

The clear-up is proceeding cautiously, aid workers say, because of an unknown 
number of explosive devices. 

"The situation is dangerous. The team must go through the camp street by 
street, structure by structure, but the area must first be declared safe," said 
Hossam Sharkawi of the Red Crescent. 

'Nothing to hide' 

Agreement on the mission was reached after Israel's Foreign Minister Shimon 
Peres told UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that his government would co-operate 
with the UN in sharing facts about what had happened there. 

Mr Peres told the UN chief that "Israel has nothing to hide regarding the 
operation in Jenin." 

      Mr Peres, left, met the US secretary of state in Washington on Friday
"Our hands are clean," he added, according to Israel's UN Mission. 

Israel's agreement to cooperate was broadly welcomed. 

UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw said: "The Israeli Government has itself claimed 
that its action was necessary and proportionate. The point I have been making 
to Israeli ministers is that, if this is so, they have nothing to fear from a 
full inquiry." 

Arab diplomats had been pushing for a resolution calling for an investigation 
into the events surrounding the destruction at Jenin and subsequent loss of 

The US initially indicated it would block any resolution on the subject, but 
then changed tack and proposed its own version. 

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat welcomed the UN mission, saying he 
expected it would find evidence of mass graves. 

      At least six Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip on Friday
"We hope the international community will allow this team to come with the 
necessary tools to remove the destroyed houses in Jenin and in Nablus to find 
the mass graves in which Israel hid a number of bodies in different areas," he 

But he cast doubt on Israel's promise to cooperate, adding that the UN mission 
should be guaranteed freedom of movement. 

The BBC's Greg Barrow at the UN says the agreement is, in effect, a diplomatic 

It falls short of what Arab nations initially demanded, but goes some way 
towards satisfying Israeli concern that it should not be subjected to an 
intrusive and politically-motivated investigation, he says. 

Withdrawal plans 

The Israeli army, which launched its operation to try to counter a string of 
suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, says it has now pulled out of Jenin 
and its refugee camp, but will continue to surround them to prevent "terrorist 

Residents say their continuing presence in what was previously 
Palestinian-controlled territory means there has been no proper withdrawal. 

Israeli officials say that by early Sunday, troops will also have left most 
other West Bank areas apart from Ramallah and Bethlehem. 

Soldiers will continue to surround the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, 
however, where a group of armed Palestinians have been holed up for more than 
two weeks. 

They will also still besiege Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's headquarters in 

Source: BBC online


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