Wednesday, December 13, 2006

US Blocks News of UN Fact-Finding Mission

December 13, 2006 Today I received the following email from an Arab American friend:

There is so much left out of US news, but the omission of this story boggles the mind.

From BBC
Israel has blocked a UN fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip that was
to be led by South African Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, the UN says.

Mr Tutu's team would have investigated last month's killings of 19
civilians in an Israeli artillery barrage in the northern town of Beit

But Israel had not granted the former Archbishop of Cape Town the
necessary travel clearance, a UN official said.

The Israeli government said it had not formally denied visas to the UN

Mr Tutu's team was supposed to report its findings to the Geneva-based
UN Human Rights Council by Friday.

Spokeswoman Sonia Bakar said Mr Tutu had other engagements and could
not wait any longer for Israeli permission to travel.

"It has been cancelled. We were supposed to go yesterday (Sunday)," she

An Israeli government spokesman said it had not made a final decision
on whether to grant visas for Mr Tutu's team.

He said the government did "not have a problem not with the
personalities, we had a problem with the institution. We saw a
situation whereby the human rights mechanism of the UN was being
cynically exploited to advance an anti-Israel agenda".

Shelling 'an accident'

The 47-nation Human Rights Council authorised the mission last month
after condemning the killings.

It asked Mr Tutu to assess the situation of victims, address the needs
of survivors and make recommendations on ways to protect Palestinian
civilians against further Israeli attacks.

The shelling, which Israel said was unintended, came after its troops
wound up a week-long incursion designed to curb Palestinian rocket
attacks on Israel from the town.

The Israeli army claimed Beit Hanoun was a rocket-launching stronghold.

Mr Tutu - the winner of the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his fight
against apartheid in South Africa - chaired the country's Truth and
Reconciliation Commission after the end of white minority rule.

http://news. 2/hi/middle_ east/6168309. stm


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