'We Are Talking Here about War Crimes' Israel Accused: Alleged Human Rights Abuses in Jenin Should Be Investigated, Says Amnesty International

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Byline: Jane Merrick

Claims of human rights abuses allegedly committed by the Israeli army in the Jenin refugee camp should be investigated on a par with war crimes perpetrated in the Balkans, Amnesty International said yesterday.

The human rights organisation, detailing what it claims was evidence of violations of humanitarian law, said the United Nations fact-finding mission did not go far enough into uncovering what had happened in the West Bank camp.

Palestinians claimed that a massacre took place in Jenin, during which hundreds died.

But Israel has denied charges of a massacre, placing the death toll in the dozens, and insisting that most were gunmen or potential suicide bombers.

A delegation from Amnesty International entered the refugee camp shortly after the army pulled out 13 days after the incursion began and took witness statements from refugees.

Javier Zuniga, director of regional strategy in the international secretariat of the organisation, said: 'We are talking here about war crimes and we believe that Israel has a case to answer. We believe that nothing short of a proper internationally-commissioned inquiry will do.'

The briefing to foreign journalists in London almost descended into chaos when one reporter, who signed himself as J Welby of the Hendon Times, had to be ejected after shouting 'suicide bombers out' several times while Mr Zuniga was speaking.

Professor Derrick Pounder, forensic pathologist at Dundee University, who examined a number of bodies found at the camp, said the type of investigation carried out by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague was the 'type of expertise which is required to bring to bear in Jenin'. …