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Israeli Army Rejects Human Right Watch Report on Jenin
Published on Friday, May 3, 2002 by Agence France Presse
Israeli Army Rejects Human Right Watch Report on Jenin

The Israeli army rejected a Human Rights Watch report that accused its troops of committing "warcrimes" in the Jenin refugee camp as biased and ill-conceived.

"It appears that the report completely ignores the root cause of the Israeli army operation in Jenin," army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Olivier Rafowicz said Friday.

"The report did not study the intricate terrorist infrastructure in the Jenin camp, and the placement of such infrastructure in a densely populated civilian area," he said.

The army spokesman argued that the "proportion of Israeli casualties (in Jenin) is roughly one to two, fully compatible with a combat situation."

The report by the US-based Human Rights Watch released Thursday concluded the Israeli army did not commit massacres in the camp as Palestinians had claimed.

But it ruled that human rights were violated in apparent "war crimes," including the alleged army use of Palestinian human shields.

Rafowicz rejected allegations the army had used Palestinians as human shields, instead accusing the militants of placing the lives of civilians in jeopardy by basing their alleged terror cells in the heart of the camp.

Palestinians have accused the Israeli army of massacring hundreds of civilians in a nine-day assault. Israel says it killed 52 Palestinians, most of them gunmen, while losing 23 of its own men in fierce fighting.

Human Rights Watch also accused Israel of demolishing civilian homes after the military phase of the battle had been completed.

But Rafowicz said the army razed 130 homes, "amounting to less than 10 percent of the houses in the camp."

"It bears asking when a country is fighting a war against terror how is it that those who are engaged in fighting terrorists come under suspicion, while the perpetrators of terror are not subject to scrutiny?" he said.

The United Nations Thursday disbanded a fact-finding committee it wanted to send to Jenin after the Israeli government refused to cooperate with the team unless it complied with conditions the UN deemed unacceptable.

Israel expressed concerns that the panel would only investigate conduct of its own army without looking into allegations that Palestinian terror cells had been based in the camp, and wanted to select its witnesses the team would interview.

Copyright 2002 AFP


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