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UN Human Rights Commission Denounces Israel - 2002-04-15


The United Nations Human Rights Commission has denounced Israel for what it called "mass killings" of Palestinians and has urged an end to its military offensive in the Palestinian territories.

The U.N.'s top human rights body has demanded the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Palestinian territories and is urging both parties to move immediately to a ceasefire.

The resolution, supported by a number of Muslim and European states, condemned Israel for what it termed "gross violations" of human rights, including arbitrary detentions, shelling of Palestinian residential areas and the killing of civilians in Palestinian refugee camps, including Jenin.

Palestinians say that Israeli troops massacred hundreds of women and children, as well as fighters.

Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. Nabil Ramlawi accused Israel of trying to cover up its actions. The Israeli government has sought to hide these crimes, hundreds of murdered individuals in the Jenin camp, hundreds of them buried in common graves, in mass graves, he said. There were corpses thrown into the sewers to hide the crime from the Israelis. Hundreds of murder victims were shipped to Israel to try to hide the extent of this crime, he charged.

Israel denies any massacre has taken place and has allowed journalists and aid workers into the Jenin camp in an effort to refute the charge. Israeli U.N. ambassador Yaacov Levy noted his country's supreme court has ruled that Israel and the International Committee of the Red Cross will identify and collect the bodies of those killed in the military operation, for burial by the Palestinians. "The order to the army was to avoid evacuating the bodies from the camp and burying them elsewhere," he said. "The army, the IDF, made a commitment to the supreme court in Israel to enable the International Committee of the Red Cross representatives to participate together with the Israeli teams in the identification, documentation, photographing those bodies in the camp in Jenin and their collection and awaiting eventual burial together with the Palestinians."

Mr. Levy said if the Palestinians delay burial, then Israel will bury the bodies in a religiously appropriate manner without distinction between fighters and civilians.

The U.N. Human Rights Commission resolution was approved, 40-5, with seven abstentions. Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Guatemala, and Britain voted against the resolution. Germany's ambassador Walter Lewalter expressed concern the resolution might be interpreted as an endorsement of violence, adding it contains "no condemnation whatsoever of terrorism." The United States is not a member of the Commission, having lost its seat last year.

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