Jenin probe cancelled

03 May 2002

Unable to secure Israeli co-operation, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on 1 May he would disband a fact-finding mission due to investigate the conduct of the Israeli army during its assault on the refugee camp of Jenin in the West Bank. 'The long shadow cast by recent events in the Jenin refugee camp will remain,' he told the UN Security Council. 'It will become more and more difficult to establish with any confidence or accuracy the recent events that took place there.'

Hours before the UN probe was due to be disbanded, Syria and Tunisia, under heavy US pressure, withdrew a draft UN resolution which would have asked Annan to send the team and demand Israeli assistance. Two alternative drafts emerged on 2 May. One of them, drawn up by the US, would put the Security Council on record as 'regretting' Israeli intransigence and supporting Annan's decision to disband it. A rival Irish draft used stronger language, 'deploring' Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's obstruction of the mission.

Palestinian medical staff have so far recovered 53 corpses from the ruins of the refugee camp, a large swathe of which was levelled by bulldozers during the nine-day Israeli assault. Of these, 21 were civilians, the Palestinians say.

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