A R C H I V E S
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|04/18/02 at 04:41:29|
[center]Shock at lack of rescue efforts in Jenin
Aid Agencies must help now, says Amnesty
Thursday April 18, 2002
The Guardian [/center]
Human rights groups protested yesterday at the lack of rescue efforts in the Jenin refugee camp amid claims that a family buried for several days in the rubble had pleaded for help by phone.
"It is shocking that the [Israeli] authorities have not asked for help and that the international community is not offering it," Amnesty International said. "Help is needed now to save what life there is left."
Speaking from inside the ruined camp, Amnesty representative Javier Zuniga said: "This is one of the worst scenes of devastation I have ever witnessed. There is a real possibility that people are still alive under the rubble of their former homes."
Amnesty said that although it was contacted by a local human rights group which had received a call from a family of 10 trapped underground and asking for help, there was still no concerted effort to search for and rescue survivors.
Israeli tanks again fired machine guns into Jenin late yesterday and loudspeakers announced a new curfew, witnesses said. Earlier in the day, about 50 tanks were seen leaving the city, but it was unclear whether they were pulling out entirely or just regrouping. The Israeli army had no immediate comment.
The area, where Israeli bulldozers demolished many homes during the bloody battle, remained a closed military zone according to the army, although some organisations were let in.
Derrick Pounder, Professor of Forensic Medicine at Dundee University and a member of the Amnesty delegation, gained access to the Jenin government hospital. He was conducting postmortems on the bodies there. Scores more bodies are thought to remain in the camp, mainly in the rubble of razed houses.
Law, a Palestinian human rights group, said that three lawyers managed to visit the hospital after being turned away by a soldier who refused to identify himself or his commander. While waiting to enter, the lawyers said they had seen soldiers at a checkpoint obstructing ambulances of the Palestinian Red Crescent and the UN which were trying to reach the hospital, Law said.
Mary Robinson, the UN human rights chief, urged Israel yesterday to let her travel there with a delayed fact-finding mission, citing "growing concerns over recent events in Jenin".
The UN Human Rights Commission wanted its mission to investigate the violence, but Israel, which views the body as biased, has failed to approve it.
[center]Fresh evidence of Jenin atrocities
By Phil Reeves in Jerusalem
18 April 2002 The Independent[/center]
Evidence of atrocities by Israeli troops in Jenin refugee camp grew yesterday when a British pathologist said he found "highly suspicious" wounds during the first autopsy on a victim.
Derrick Pounder, professor of forensic medicine at Dundee University, who is working with Amnesty International, visited the ruined camp and said: "Claims that a large number of civilians died and are under the rubble are highly credible. It is not believable that only a few people have been killed, given the reports we have that a large number of people were inside three and four-storey buildings when they were demolished."
The autopsy on the 38-year-old Palestinian revealed that "he was either shot in the foot, and then in the back, or shot in the back first – receiving a fatal wound – and his corpse was for some reason shot in the foot," he said. "Whichever order the shots occurred in, it was highly suspicious".
As the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, left for America yesterday, having failed to secure a ceasefire, international fury was growing over events at Jenin. The camp, home to 13,500 refugees, was stormed by Israeli forces a fortnight ago in what Mr Sharon called a counter-terrorism operation against Palestinian militants. The furore has severely damaged Israel's international standing, sending it to its lowest point for several decades.
Palestinians who survived the long battle – in which Israeli helicopters fired rockets and machine-guns into a densely populated area – have said the Israeli army committed many atrocities. Witnesses have described people being shot as they surrendered; houses being bulldozed with people inside; the use of human shields; the burial of 32 bodies in a trench, and one case of Israeli soldiers turning on the household gas supply before tossing a stun grenade into a room full of people.
Richard Cook, head of operations for Unrwa – the UN agency for Palestinian refugees – visited the camp yesterday. He said: "I was absolutely appalled. I anticipated it to a degree but the devastation was much greater than I expected."
The Foreign Office said "disproportionate and excessive" force had been used by Israel, and "clearly civilians were not properly protected".
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