Thursday, January 08, 2009

Israel admits rocket fire was not from within school.

I spoke yesterday about my astonishment at Mark Regev's appearance on Newsnight and the shameful lack of any apology for Israel bombing a UN school. At the time Regev was claiming that rocket fire was emanating from the school, a claim which the UN denied.

Israel have now admitted that there was, in fact, no rocket fire coming from the school.

Israel told foreign diplomats Wednesday that Palestinian militants had not fired rockets from within a United Nations' school, a UN official said. Israeli military officials said on Tuesday that militants had fired rockets from within the school, and that attack provoked Israeli artillery fire which landed near the school and killed more than 40 Palestinians in the Jabalia refugee camp, many of whom were seeking refuge from fighting.

"The Israeli army is briefing diplomats privately that the militant fire from Jablia yesterday did not come from inside the UNRWA school compound, but from the outside," said Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the UN Relief Works Agency, which aids Palestinian refugees.

Gunness said the claim was a "major allegation against a neutral UN development agency" which "within a day turns out to be completely baseless."

UNRWA's Gaza director, John Ging, had said earlier that to the best of his knowledge no rockets were fired from within the school.
Human Rights Watch are calling for a full UN investigation into the incident.

I find it staggering that Regev could have immediately appeared on TV insisting that rocket fire emanated from the school only for Israel to withdraw this claim so soon afterwards.

But this is not the first time Israel have behaved in such a manner. Robert Fisk laid out Israel's propensity to lie after such outrages in the Independent the other day:

The Sabra and Chatila massacre was committed by Israel's right-wing Lebanese Phalangist allies while Israeli troops, as Israel's own commission of inquiry revealed, watched for 48 hours and did nothing. When Israel was blamed, Menachem Begin's government accused the world of a blood libel. After Israeli artillery had fired shells into the UN base at Qana in 1996, the Israelis claimed that Hizbollah gunmen were also sheltering in the base. It was a lie. The more than 1,000 dead of 2006 – a war started when Hizbollah captured two Israeli soldiers on the border – were simply dismissed as the responsibility of the Hizbollah. Israel claimed the bodies of children killed in a second Qana massacre may have been taken from a graveyard. It was another lie. The Marwahin massacre was never excused. The people of the village were ordered to flee, obeyed Israeli orders and were then attacked by an Israeli gunship. The refugees took their children and stood them around the truck in which they were travelling so that Israeli pilots would see they were innocents. Then the Israeli helicopter mowed them down at close range. Only two survived, by playing dead. Israel didn't even apologise.

Twelve years earlier, another Israeli helicopter attacked an ambulance carrying civilians from a neighbouring village – again after they were ordered to leave by Israel – and killed three children and two women. The Israelis claimed that a Hizbollah fighter was in the ambulance. It was untrue. I covered all these atrocities, I investigated them all, talked to the survivors. So did a number of my colleagues. Our fate, of course, was that most slanderous of libels: we were accused of being anti-Semitic.

And now, yet again, we find that what Regev was saying as he refused to apologise for a disgraceful atrocity was completely untrue.

The school attack appears to have been too much for even the US to defend with movement taking place, at long last, at the UN.

Miliband spoke the most sense when he called the situation in Gaza "an indictment of our collective failure [...] to bring about the two state solution that offers the only hope of security and justice for Israelis and Palestinians alike."

Barack Obama has promised to fully engage with the Israel/Palestine problem as soon as he is inaugurated which, after the disgraceful inaction of the Bush years, will be long overdue.

Click title for full article.


Just when you think it can't get any more appalling, we are hit with this:
The Red Cross has accused Israel of failing to fulfil its obligation to help wounded civilians in Gaza.

ICRC staff found four weak and scared children beside their mothers' bodies in houses hit by shelling in Zeitoun.

The Israeli military has not yet responded to the accusation, but said it worked closely with aid groups so that civilians could get assistance.
And to cap it all:
Meanwhile the UN said it was suspending aid operations in Gaza because of the danger to staff from Israeli attacks.

"We have suspended our operations in Gaza until the Israeli authorities can guarantee our safety and security," said Chris Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations relief agency Unwra.

"Our installations have been hit, our workers have been killed in spite of the fact that the Israeli authorities have the co-ordinates of our facilities and that all our movements are co-ordinated with the Israeli army.

"It is with great regret that Unwra has been forced to make this difficult decision."
It really is like their army is utterly out of control. I mean it's not as if the Red Cross and Unwra are unused to war zones.

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