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UN to Press on with Jenin 'War Crimes' Report
Published on Friday, May 10, 2002 by the Guardian of London
UN to Press on with Jenin 'War Crimes' Report
by Brian Whitaker
 

The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, is to go ahead with a report on allegations of war crimes in the Jenin refugee camp, despite Israeli rejection of a fact-finding mission approved by the security council.

Instead of sending investigators to the West Bank town, Mr Annan will ask Israel and the Palestinians to "provide information."

"We hope that the parties will cooperate fully with us as we prepare this report," UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said. "We will prepare the report as expeditiously as possible, bearing in the mind that we will need to gather and review all available information."

The move came after the UN general assembly adopted a resolution asking Mr Annan to "present a report, drawing upon available resources, on the recent events in Jenin and in other Palestinian cities."

This means the scope of the report will be wider than the one originally requested by the security council, which concerned only Jenin.

Last week the New York based Human Rights Watch issued a report accusing Israel of war crimes during its onslaught in the camp last month.

It rejected claims that hundreds of Palestinians had been killed but said at least 22 civilians were among the 52 known Palestinian dead. Twenty-three Israeli soldiers also died.

"Many of the civilians were killed willfully or unlawfully. The abuses we documented in Jenin are extremely serious, and in some cases appear to be war crimes," the report said.

It also complained of "the denial of medical access for the injured that in some cases may have resulted in death."

Asked who would be involved in preparing the UN report, Mr Eckhard said they would mainly be people from the department of political affairs, including at least one person who had been assigned to the now disbanded fact-finding team.

Those preparing the new report "will be using all information available. That would include anything the team had assembled in Geneva before it was disbanded," the spokesman said.

The general assembly resolution on Wednesday also condemned Israel's assault on Palestinian cities and its failure to cooperate with the fact-finding team.

After initially agreeing to the fact-finding team, Israel objected on the grounds that its members were biased. It also sought guarantees of immunity from prosecution for any Israelis giving evidence.

Israel's UN mission had no official comment yesterday, but a spokesman, Ariel Milo, said Israel had voted against the "disgraceful" general assembly resolution, requesting Mr Annan to write a report.

Israel has long been at odds with the general assembly, which in 1975 passed a resolution, later rescinded, saying "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination."

© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002

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