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Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 23:45 GMT 00:45 UK
Palestinians reject UN's Jenin findings
A body is removed from the Jenin refugee camp
The report rejected Palestinian claims of a massacre
Palestinian officials have rejected a United Nations report on Israel's assault on a West Bank refugee camp, after it said it found no evidence that Israeli troops had committed a massacre there.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said mass killings of civilians had "clearly happened" when Israel attacked the Jenin camp in April, calling Israel's actions a "war crime".


This is a war crime and crimes against humanity also took place

Saeb Erekat, Palestinian negotiator
Israel broadly welcomed the report's conclusions, saying it repudiated "false Palestinian propaganda".

The long-awaited report criticised both Israel and Palestinian militants for putting civilians in harm's way during the 10-day battle.

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 in New York, says the report offers few conclusions and merely reports allegations that have already been made.

Palestinian anger

The report disputed a claim by Mr Erekat in mid-April that some 500 Palestinians were killed in the camp.

Palestinian boy in debris in Jenin
Palestinian militants reportedly booby-trapped homes

It said that figure "has not been substantiated in the light of the evidence that has emerged".

The report said the overall number of Palestinians killed was 52 - around half of whom may have been civilians - while Israel lost 23 soldiers there.

Mr Erekat reacted angrily to the findings, saying: "The UN should have used the word 'massacre' or 'war crime'.

"The Israeli massacre in Jenin's refugee camp clearly happened and this is a war crime and crimes against humanity also took place," he said.

'Malicious lies'

Israel praised the report, which it said was brought about "as a result of false Palestinian propaganda".

"The report overwhelmingly negates this Palestinian fabrication and repudiates the malicious lies spread regarding this issue," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Daniel Taub.

Israel had blocked an earlier UN fact-finding mission, objecting to the team's composition and mandate.

Arab members of the UN then introduced a resolution asking UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to look into Israel's actions in Jenin and other cities across the West Bank.

UN officials gathered information from Palestinians, private relief organisations and foreign governments, but not from Israel, which ignored requests to help in compiling the report.

Israel opposed any UN inquiry into events in Jenin, claiming its findings would be biased.

Civilian hardship

The report voiced "particular concern" over the suffering of Palestinian civilians in the Jenin camp.


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

Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General

It said civilians were put in harm's way, both by the Israelis' methods of attack and by Palestinian armed groups.

It said 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 added.

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

It also said curfews and closures increased civilian hardship, leaving one in five Palestinians in Jenin short of food.

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.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jeremy Cooke
"Israel's denials of a massacre have been vindicated"
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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02 Aug 02 | Media reports
01 Aug 02 | Middle East
01 Aug 02 | Middle East
01 Aug 02 | Middle East
03 May 02 | Middle East
02 May 02 | Middle East
29 Apr 02 | Middle East
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