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Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
UN says no massacre in Jenin
Jenin refugee camp after the attack
The April attack left the camp in ruins
A United Nations investigation has rejected claims that hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed in Israel's attack on the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin.

In a report released on Thursday the UN said the overall number of Palestinians killed was 52 - around half of whom may have been civilians - while Israel lost 23 soldiers there.


Of particular concern is the use, by combatants on both sides, of violence that placed civilians in harm's way

UN report
The report also criticises both Palestinians and Israelis for putting civilians in harm's way.

The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, said the report's aim of finding out exactly what happened in Jenin had been blocked by Israel's decision to refuse access to UN investigators.

A Palestinian official has rejected the UN's conclusions, insisting that a massacre took place.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has welcomed the findings, saying the report "clears up misconceptions" about events in Jenin.

Israeli troops attacked Jenin on 3 April, days after launching a wide-scale offensive on the West Bank following a wave of suicide bombings in Israel, which it alleges were planned in the camp.

The BBC's Greg Barrow at the UN says the report offers few conclusions and merely reports allegations that have already been made.

Civilian hardship

"A senior Palestinian Authority official alleged in mid-April that some 500 (Palestinians) were killed, a figure that has not been substantiated in the light of the evidence that has emerged," the report says.

Palestinian boy in debris in Jenin
The report said Palestinians booby-trapped homes
Using figures from Jenin hospital and the Israeli military (IDF) it says only 52 Palestinian deaths could be confirmed.

Civilians were put in harm's way, both by the Israelis' methods of attack and by Palestinian armed groups' responses, according to the report.

It says Palestinian militants sought by the Israeli military were placed in heavily populated areas, putting civilians at risk.

"Palestinian groups are alleged to have widely booby-trapped civilian homes, acts targeted at IDF personnel but also putting civilians in danger," the report adds.

"IDF is reported to have used bulldozers, tank shelling and rocket firing, at times from helicopters, in populated areas."

The report also says curfews and closures increased civilian hardship, leaving one in five Palestinians in Jenin short of food.

It reports "cases of Israeli forces not respecting the neutrality of medical and humanitarian workers and attacking ambulances".

Palestinian fury

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected the UN report, saying an "Israeli massacre in Jenin's refugee camp clearly happened... and crimes against humanity also took place".

"How many civilians must be killed to speak of a massacre?"


I would hope that both parties will draw the right lessons from this tragic episode

Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General

But an Israeli Foreign Ministry official, Daniel Taub, said the report showed that Palestinian claims of a massacre had been "nothing more than atrocity propaganda".

"We think that these findings are extremely important both to clear up misconceptions about what happened in Jenin and also to pave the way to the possibility of restarting dialogue in the future," Mr Taub said.

Mr Annan said he hoped the report would help both sides move forward.

"I would hope that both parties will draw the right lessons from this tragic episode and take steps to end the cycle of violence which is killing innocent civilians on both sides," he said.

The report was compiled at the request of Arab nations, based on information from UN officials, the Palestinians, private relief organisations and foreign governments.

An earlier UN fact-finding mission was disbanded after Israel refused to co-operate, objecting to the team's composition and mandate.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jeremy Cooke
"The centre of Jenin was completely destroyed in the fighting"
Daniel Taub, Israeli foreign ministry
"This tragedy began when the Palestinian leadership allowed terrorists to set up shop in the heart of Palestinian areas"
Paul McCann, UN Relief Agency
"The international community needs to keep supporting the Palestinians"

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See also:

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03 May 02 | Middle East
02 May 02 | Middle East
29 Apr 02 | Middle East
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