MIDDLE EAST: Amnesty Demands War Crimes Inquiry into Jenin Invasion ; Israel Accused of `Very Serious Human Rights Abuses' in Refugee Camp, While Skirmishes Continue at Basilica of the Nativity
Reeves, Phil, The Independent (London, England)
INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE on Israel to explain its army's conduct during the invasion of Jenin's refugee camp grew yesterday after Amnesty International accused it of "very serious human rights abuses", and called for a war crimes investigation.
The human rights group said that it reached the preliminary conclusion there was evidence of crimes, including extra-judicial executions and the use of human shields.
Javier Zuniga, Amnesty's regional director, said: "We have concluded, on a preliminary basis, that very serious violations of human rights were committed. We are talking here [about] possible war crimes. We believe Israel has a case to answer."
Kofi Annan, United Nations secretary general, has named a three- member fact-finding team led by the ex-Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari to determine what happened during Israel's assault on the Jenin camp in the West Bank. The other two members are Cornelio Sommaruga, former president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Sadako Ogata, the former UN high commissioner for refugees who is Japan's special envoy on Afghan reconstruction.
Mr Ahtisaari said he hoped the team would arrive in the West Bank later this week.
Israel's government has launched a public relations drive to counter the persistent allegations of atrocities, and to convince the world that its military offensive in Jenin was a legitimate counter-terrorism operation, aimed at ending a wave of suicide bombings.
An Israeli Foreign Office official acknowledged yesterday that a "terrible tragedy" occured in Jenin but placed the blame on Palestinian militants, saying they had endangered civilians by manufacturing rockets and setting numerous booby-traps in the heart of the camp.
Kathleen Cavanaugh, an expert in international law with Amnesty, said the group had gathered statements from witnesses saying the army had executed a number of people, particularly at the early stage of the operation. That matches accounts gathered by The Independent.
The offensive began on 2 April and led to days of intense fighting in which …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: MIDDLE EAST: Amnesty Demands War Crimes Inquiry into Jenin Invasion ; Israel Accused of `Very Serious Human Rights Abuses' in Refugee Camp, While Skirmishes Continue at Basilica of the Nativity. Contributors: Reeves, Phil - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: April 23, 2002. Page number: 12. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.