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Saturday, 13 April, 2002, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Straw berates Israeli ambassador
Boys play with an Israeli rocket launcher found in Jenin
Jenin has seen some of the fiercest fighting
Israel's ambassador in London has been summoned to the Foreign Office to explain his country's actions in the West Bank.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said he was "disturbed" by reports of hundreds of deaths and casualties in the Jenin refugee camp at the hands of the Israeli Defence Force.

Mr Straw met the Israeli ambassador Zvi Shtauber on Friday afternoon to express these concerns.

Meanwhile about 10-15,000 people are demonstrating in London's Hyde Park against the Israeli action.
Jack Straw with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
Straw: appalled at reports from Jenin

Israeli incursions into Palestinian territory began a fortnight ago but tensions rose on Friday when a suicide bomber killed six people in Jerusalem.

After speaking to Labour MP Ann Clwyd, who is in Jenin on a fact-finding mission, the foreign secretary said: "I am profoundly concerned by what she has told me, passing on eyewitness accounts from the camp.

"I am disturbed by these further reports relating to the conduct of the Israeli Defence Force - a matter which I raised with (foreign minister) Shimon Peres on 11 April."

Britain's ambassador in Tel Aviv, Sherard Cowper-Coles, expressed similar fears to Israeli officials.

'Tearful' rally

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "British officials told the Israeli Government that the allegations against the Israeli Defence Force were serious.

"They added that it was in Israel's interests that they should be addressed, preferably by allowing international organisations into the camp so that the international community could make its own judgment about what had happened."

Mr Straw relayed his condolences to the famillies of victims on both sides.

He said: "The latest deaths from the suicide bombing in Jerusalem, alongside the deaths of innocents in the Jenin refugee camp, are appalling.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Powell's mission has faltered amid more attacks

"The expression of condolences is now a daily matter, but it is essential that it does not become routine."

He urged all parties to sit down with Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, who is on a crisis mission in the Middle East, but has so far failed to force an Israeli withdrawal.

Although Britain has called for the Israelis to withdraw, Downing Street has not yet committed to a UN suggestion to send an international force into the territories.

The BBC's Martha Doyle, reporting from Hyde Park, said people from all over the UK had travelled to London for the pro-Palestinian rally, which started at 1400 BST.

Some were tearful and angry, she said, and a petition will be handed in to Downing Street to demand sanctions against Israel.

Among the organisations taking part are the Muslim Association of Britain and CND.

See also:

12 Apr 02 | Middle East
Eyewitness: Jerusalem attack
13 Apr 02 | Middle East
Israel moves deeper into West Bank
10 Apr 02 | UK Politics
Blair issues new Mid-East peace call
12 Apr 02 | Middle East
Israel stalls over troop withdrawal
12 Apr 02 | Middle East
Analysis: Powell runs into trouble
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