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Thursday, August 1, 2002
Israel's Reaction to the UN Secretary General's Report on Jenin

Israel's Reaction to the UN Secretary General's Report on Jenin
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson)

Jerusalem, 1 August 2002

The UN Secretary General's Report on Jenin, released today, came
about as the result of false Palestinian propaganda regarding an
alleged 'massacre' in the Jenin Refugee camp during the course of
Israel's Defensive Shield counter-terrorist operation of April, 2002.
The report overwhelmingly negates this Palestinian fabrication and
repudiates the malicious lies spread regarding the issue. The report
specifically refutes the claim made by a senior Palestinian Authority
official alleging the massacre of 500 civilians, indicating that
there were no more than 52 Palestinian fatalities in Jenin, most of
them apparently armed individuals.

In addition, the report clearly establishes that the Palestinian
Authority did nothing to prevent terrorism and had failed to fulfill
its responsibility and commitment to confront terrorism, noting that
this failure was due to the PA's assumption that terrorism would
force Israeli acquiescence.

The report also confirms that Israel's counter-terrorist operations
came in reaction to a grim wave of suicide terrorism, specifically
stressing the murderous attack on Passover night in the Park Hotel in
Netanya. Furthermore, the report points out that the terrorist
organizations purposely situated themselves in the heart of a
Palestinian civilian population, while setting booby-traps in
civilian residences.

It is appalling that the Palestinian terrorism, which had forced
Israel to undertake Operation Defensive Shield in April, has struck
again on the same day of this report's publication.

Israel has taken note of the report's comments regarding delays in
the movement of humanitarian agencies in the area. Israel recognizes
the importance of the activities of these agencies and will continue
to assist them in their humanitarian efforts. However, Israel rejects
the accusations made regarding its actions during the course of
Operation Defensive Shield, which derived from its right to
self-defense in the face of terrorist attack.

Israel remains resolute in its desire to achieve peace, and will
spare no effort in order to attain this fundamental goal.

=====
Below: UN Press Release on UN Secretary-General's report on recent events
in Jenin and other Palestinian cities, Aug 1, 2002

SG/2077
1 August 2002

REPORT OF SECRETARY-GENERAL ON RECENT EVENTS IN JENIN, OTHER PALESTINIAN
CITIES

The United Nations today released the Secretary-General's report on
recent events in Jenin and other Palestinian cities. This report was
requested by the General Assembly in May (resolution ES-10/10, adopted on 7
May 2002), after the disbandment of the team which the Secretary-General,
supported by the Security Council (resolution 1405 of 19 April 2002), had
proposed to send to Jenin to establish the facts on the ground.

The report was, therefore, written without a visit to Jenin or to the
other Palestinian cities. It relies, as the Assembly requested, on
"available resources and information", including submissions from six United
Nations Member States and Observer Missions, documents in the public domain,
and papers submitted by non-governmental organizations from a range of
perspectives. The Palestinian Authority did submit information, while the
Government of Israel did not. In an effort to present as complete a picture
as possible, the report makes use of publicly available information from the
Israeli Government.

The report covers a period running from approximately the beginning of
March to 7 May 2002. It sets out the context and background of the
situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. It also
describes the security, humanitarian and human rights responsibilities of
both parties. It briefly charts the rising violence since September 2000,
which had, by 7 May 2002, caused the deaths of 441 Israelis and 1,539
Palestinians.

It was against this backdrop that the most extensive Israeli military
incursions in a decade, Operation Defensive Shield, took place -- the
proximate cause being the terrorist attack on 27 March in Netanya, in which
28 people were killed and 140 injured. The operation began on 29 March with
an incursion into Ramallah, followed by entry into Tulkarm and Qalqilya on 1
April, Bethlehem on 2 April, and Jenin and Nablus on 3 April. By 3 April,
six of the largest cities in the West Bank, and their surrounding towns,
villages and refugee camps, were occupied by the Israeli military.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) announced the official end of Operation
Defensive Shield on 21 April, but its consequences lasted far longer. Much
of the fighting that occurred during the operation took place in areas
heavily populated by civilians -- in large part because the armed
Palestinian groups sought by the IDF during the incursions placed their
combatants and installations among civilians -- and, in many cases, heavy
weaponry was used. As a result, the populations of the cities suffered
severe hardships.

The report highlights some key aspects of the events in Jenin and other
Palestinian cities:

Terrorist Attacks from Palestinian Cities

The report describes the concerns of the Government of Israel that a
number of the cities served as bases for armed Palestinian groups engaged in
terrorist actsagainst Israel. For example, Israel has charged that, from
October 2000 to April 2002, 28 suicide attacks were planned and launched
from the Jenin camp. After their incursion into the camp, the IDF publicized
the materials found there, including documents, arms caches and explosives
laboratories

Conduct of Palestinian Militants during Incursions

The report notes that armed Palestinian groups are alleged to have
widely booby-trapped civilian homes -- acts which targeted IDF personnel,
but also placed civilians in danger. It also quotes the Palestinian
Authority as acknowledging that a number of Palestinian fighters resisted
the Israeli military assault.

Conduct of IDF during Incursions

The report refers to allegations from the Palestinian Authority and
human rights organizations that, in the course of its operations, the IDF
engaged in unlawful killings, the use of human shields, disproportionate use
of force, arbitrary arrests and torture, and denial of medical treatment and
access. Among the examples and descriptions given in the report are the
following:

-- Death toll: Four hundred ninety-seven Palestinians were killed and
1,447 wounded in the course of the IDF reoccupation of Palestinian areas
from 1 March through 7 May 2002 and in the immediate aftermath. Most
accounts estimate that between 70 and 80 Palestinians, including
approximately 50 civilians, were killed in Nablus. The IDF lost four
soldiers there. In Jenin camp, by the time of the IDF's withdrawal and the
lifting of the curfew on 18 April, at least

52 Palestinians, of whom up to half may have been civilians, and 23
Israeli soldiers were dead. Allegations by Palestinian Authority officials
in mid-April that 500 or more persons were killed in Jenin camp were not
substantiated by the evidence that subsequently emerged.

-- Arbitrary arrests and detention: By 6 May, an alleged 7,000
Palestinians had been arrested under Operation Defensive Shield, many of
them held for long periods with little or no outside contact. In many
instances, the IDF followed a pattern of using loudspeakers to summon males
between the ages of 15 and 45. According to human rights reports,
significant numbers of the men arrested were blindfolded and handcuffed, not
allowed to use a lavatory, and deprived of food or blankets during their
first day in detention.

-- Human shields: There were numerous reports of the IDF compelling
Palestinian civilians to accompany them during house searches, check
suspicious subjects, stand in the line of fire, and in other ways protect
soldiers from danger. Witnesses claim that this was done in the Jenin camp
and other Palestinian cities. The Government of Israel has denied that its
military personnel systematically engaged in this practice, but on 5 May
issued "an unequivocal order ... that forces in the field are absolutely
forbidden to use civilians as a means of 'living shield'".

-- Disproportionate and indiscriminate destruction: Operation Defensive
Shield resulted in the widespread destruction of Palestinian private and
public property. The IDF is reported to have used bulldozers, tank shelling
and rocket firing, at times from helicopters, in populated areas. The
report points to the fact that over 2,800 refugee housing units were damaged
and 878 homes were demolished or destroyed during the period covered,
leaving more than 17,000 people homeless or in need of shelter
rehabilitation. Nablus was especially hard hit in terms of physical
destruction, notably in its Old City, which contained many buildings of
cultural, religious and historic significance.

-- Destruction of Palestinian Authority civilian property: United
Nations agencies and other international agencies, when allowed into
Ramallah and other Palestinian cities, documented extensive physical damage
to Palestinian Authority civilian property. That damage included the
destruction of office equipment, such as computers and photocopying
machines, that did not appear to be related to military objectives. While
denying that such destruction was systematic, the IDF has admitted that its
personnel engaged in some acts of vandalism, and is carrying out some
related prosecutions.

-- Curfews and closures: Round-the-clock curfews were imposed in
cities, refugee camps, towns and villages, affecting an estimated 1 million
people. Two hundred twenty thousand urban residents lived under curfew
regimes for over a week, without vital supplies and access to first aid. In
Nablus, for example, the IDF imposed a curfew on 3 April and completely
lifted it only on 22 April.

-- Denial of humanitarian access: During and immediately after the
incursions, the report finds that Palestinian civilians suffered from
prolonged delays in medical attention for the wounded and sick. In Jenin,
especially, from 11-15 April, United Nations and other humanitarian agencies
petitioned and negotiated with the IDF for access to the camp, and made many
attempts to send in convoys, to no avail. Many of the reports of human
rights groups contain accounts of wounded civilians waiting days to reach
medical assistance, and being refused medical treatment by IDF soldiers. In
some cases, people died as a result of these delays.

-- Attacks on ambulances: The report cites three instances where
Israeli forces attacked ambulances. On 4 March (before the Jenin
incursion), the head of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society Emergency
Medical Service in Jenin was killed by a shell fired from an Israeli tank
while he was travelling in a clearly marked ambulance. On 7 March, an
employee of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was shot and killed while riding in an
UNRWA ambulance near Tulkarm in the West Bank. And on 8 April, an UNRWA
ambulance was fired on as it tried to reach a wounded man in Jenin. The
Government of Israel has asserted that ambulances were used to transport
terrorists and their weapons.

Israeli Death Toll during period 1 March - 7 May

According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the IDF lost 30
soldiers during Operation Defensive Shield. Israel also endured
approximately 16 terrorist bombings, the large majority of which were
suicide attacks, between the beginning of March and 7 May. More than 100
persons were killed and scores more wounded in those attacks.

Overall Impact

The civilian population in the occupied Palestinian territory continues
to suffer severe hardships, many of which have sharply intensified since the
events covered in the report. There has been a near-complete cessation of
all productive activity in the main West Bank centres of manufacturing,
construction, commerce and private and public services, exacerbating the
severe decline in living standards over the last 18 months. The United
Nations does not have a mandate to monitor and report on conditions in
Israel, as it does in the occupied Palestinian territory, and, therefore,
does not have detailed information about the broader impact on Israel's
society and economy. But it is clear that during this period the Israeli
people, too, have experienced great suffering, as a result of terrorism, and
that Israel's economy has been badly damaged.

In conclusion, the report stresses that a full and comprehensive account
of the events in Jenin and other Palestinian cities could not be given
without the full cooperation of both parties and a visit to the area.
However, the Secretary-General expresses his confidence that "the picture
painted in this report is a fair representation of a complex reality", as
well as his belief that the events described show how urgent it is that the
parties return to the peace process.

* *** *

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