NEWS: 27 Adar 5769, Monday, March 23, 2009
UN report accuses Israel of using human shieldsUN's Radhika Coomaraswamy accuses IDF troops of sending 11-year-old Palestinian boy into building ahead of them during Gaza operation. Israel slams UN's 'unwillingness' to address Hamas terrorism
|Israeli soldiers used an 11-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield during the war againstHamas in the Gaza Strip, UN human rights experts said Monday.
The IDF ordered the boy to walk in front of soldiers being fired on in the Gaza neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa and enter buildings before them, said the UN secretary-general's envoy for protecting children in armed
conflict. The boy also was told to open the bags of Palestinians presumably to protect the soldiers from possible explosives - before being released at the entrance to a hospital, Radhika Coomaraswamy said.
She said the Jan. 15 incident, after Israeli tanks entered the neighborhood and during "intense operations," was a violation of Israeli and international law. It was included in a 43-page report published Monday, and was just one of many verified human rights atrocities during the three-week war between Israel and Hamas that ended Jan. 18, she said.
Coomaraswamy accused Israeli soldiers of shooting Palestinian children, bulldozing a home with a woman and child still inside, and shelling a building they had ordered civilians into a day earlier.
"Violations were reported on a daily basis, too numerous to list," said Coomaraswamy, who visited Gaza and Israel for five days in February.
Coomaraswamy said there also have been allegations that Hamas used human shields or fired from heavily populated areas, and that UN officials are investigating.
UN 'ignoring terrorist threat'Israel criticized the report as "unable or perhaps unwilling" to address Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza or the threat of terrorism, citing Saturday's failed attempt to explode a car bomb in a Haifa mall parking lot as the most recent manifestation. "The report claims to examine Israel's actions while it willfully ignores and downplays the terrorist and other threats we face," Ambassador Aharon Leshno Yaar told the 47-nation Human Rights Council. Leshno Yaar said terrorists use women and children as human shields when they launch attacks from schools, homes, hospitals and mosques. He did not address the report's specific allegation about the boy, but an army spokesman rejected the claim. "We are an army to which morals and high ethical standards are paramount," said Capt. Elie Isaacson. Coomaraswamy said her list of Israeli violations constituted "just a few examples of the hundreds of incidents that have been documented and verified" by UN officials who were in the territory. She was the only one of the nine UN experts who compiled the report that was allowed into Gaza following the war. The experts covered issues ranging from health and hunger to women's rights and arbitrary executions. The experts also noted reports that Hamas had committed other abuses. They said Hamas had been unwilling to investigate the allegations. The report called for Israel to investigate human rights abuses that occurred during the conflict. Last week Israel's military ordered a criminal inquiry into published reports from soldiers that some troops had knowingly killed Palestinian civilians, including children.
Likud-Labor talks start, take Netanyahu close to government
DEBKAfile Special Report
March 23, 2009, 11:30 AM (GMT+02:00)
Their guidelines are based on a joint effort to rescue the economic from recession and mass unemployment and also embody a commitment by the government headed by Binyamin Netanyau to hold diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians and Syria. There is no reference to the two-state formula espoused by Kadima.
Defense minister Ehud Barak hopes his Labor party will agree to join the government in which he will retain defense. Negotiations are led for Labor by Ofer Eini, trade unions strongman, who is determined to take the party into government to ease the pressures expected to cause massive layoffs. The economy will be Netanyahu's priority as prime minister. He has prepared a comprehensive recovery program with Eini and business leaders.
The deal signed with the ultra-religious Shas before dawn Monday March 23 gives the prime minister-designate 53 out of 120 Knesset seats after Israel Beitenu signed on last week assigning foreign affairs to its leader Avigdor Lieberman.
Barak's Labor party is deeply riven over his commitment to join the Netanyahu line-up and stay on as defense minister. The second ultra-religious party United Torah Judaism (5) is expected to finalize negotiations by the end of the day. Defense minister Ehud Barak's Labor party is deeply riven over his commitment to join the Netanyahu line-up.
He jumped the gun Sunday by setting up a team of his supporters to kick off negotiations with Likud Monday morning, hoping to have a finished draft accord to present to the party's central committee Tuesday. The session may be delayed for Barak to build a majority to endorse his proposal. If he fails, he is considering defecting from Labor and joining the government regardless. If he succeeds, he will have five senior cabinet posts to hand out to his party plus the chairs of two of the most powerful parliamentary committees. Labor may also face a split. By the end of the week, this process will have worked its way to a conclusion one way or the other.
Shas has come away with four cabinet posts, including interior for its leader Ellie Yishai, housing and the National Lands Authority, as well as a pledge to raise child allowances and allocations for the yeshiva seminaries.
The second ultra-religious party United Torah Judaism (5) is expected to finalize negotiations by the end of the day.
With Labor, Netanyahu will have a comfortable majority of 71 seats without the two nationalist parties which are still waiting in the wings. With them and without Labor, he has 65. He has until the end of next week to present a viable government to the president. It looks like a romp.
Senior Fatah leader killed in s. Lebanon
Jerusalem police foil mobster hit
The Associated Press
|Published:||03.23.09, 18:57 / Israel News|