November 11, 2006
America Vetos Draft UN Security Council Resolution Condemning Beit Hanoun Massacre
The United States on Saturday vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel for last Wednesday's maasacre of Beit Hanoun, in which 19 civilians were killed. The resolution, proposed by Qatar, mainly called for an "immediate investigation into the massacre that took place in Beit Hanoun" and for Israel to "cease all violence against the civilian population in the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem." The draft also demanded the deployment of UN observers in the area to oversee the implementation of the cease-fire outlined in the draft.
Presidency Spokesperson Nabil Abu Rdaina condemned Saturday the American veto against a draft resolution condemning the Israeli massacre in Beit Hanoun in which 19 civilians were killed. Abu Rdaina told WAFA that the American veto encourages Israel to commit massacres against the Palestinian people. Last Wednesday, Israeli Occupation Forces killed nineteen civilians, most of them children and women, who were in bed.
The text of the resolution, which was sponsored by Arab states, also condemned the firing of rockets by Palestinian fighters into Israel. Ten of the council's 15 members voted in favour and four -Britain, Denmark, Japan and Slovakia - abstained. As one of the council's five permanent members along with Britain, China, France and Russia, the US has veto power which it has now used 82 times, often to shield Israel from censure.
Avi Pazner, an Israeli government spokesman, said: "The American veto is very satisfactory. "The draft resolution did not stipulate that what happened at Beit Hanoun was a tragic error." Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, said: "We condemn this veto."We feel it will encourage Israel to continue its escalation against the Palestinian people."
Diplomats said Arab countries would now most likely take their case to the 192-member UN General Assembly, where their draft would get a more sympathetic hearing. Israel has expressed regret for the loss of life in Beit Hanoun but has said it will continue its military operations in Gaza.
It said an investigation indicated that the casualties were caused by a technical failure in the fire control system of an artillery battery!
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Israel to launch an independent inquiry into its recent shelling of Gaza, calling an internal army investigation "insufficient".
An initial military probe into the deaths of 20 Palestinians, mostly infants, women and children, attributed the shelling to a "technical failure of the artillery radar system". But HRW said that the army's inquiry "failed to address the key questions of whether the attack was a violation of international law and who should be held accountable for the lethal fire". "The Israeli government should immediately conduct a comprehensive independent investigation to establish these issues," HRW said.
Sarah Leah Whitson, the director of the Middle East and North Africa Division of HRW, said: "The IDF's (Israeli army's) internal probe suggests that the Beit Hanoun tragedy can be chalked up to an errant volley of shells. "But a comprehensive investigation should start with questioning whether Israel had any business firing artillery shells into this civilian area to begin with."
HRW said the inquiry should examine the Israeli policy which led to the firing of "some 15,000 artillery shells" into Gaza since September 2005, killing more than 49 Palestinians and seriously wounding dozens more.
Whitson said: "Israeli forces launched the artillery attack on Beit Hanoun at a time when their commanders knew, or should have known, that the risk of civilian deaths far outweighed any definite military advantage."
Some 200 people have demonstrated in Tel Aviv, saying the Israeli government had blood on its hands, after the killing of 18 Palestinians, mostly women and children, by shell fire in Gaza. "This government has blood on its hands," read a sign carried by some of the protesters on Wednesday in front of the Israeli defence ministry following the attack in Gaza's northern town of Beit Hanoun.
The demonstrators called for "dialogue in place of war", while some called for the resignation of Amir Peretz, the defence minister and a former Peace Now activist who has presided over a bloody four-month operation against fighters in Gaza that has left more than 300 Palestinians dead.
Meanwhile B'Tselem, a prominent rights group in Israel, called for a criminal investigation, saying Wednesday's attack in which several women and children died raised "grave concern that the action constitutes a war crime". "Artillery fire, which is inherently inaccurate, near a densely populated residential area makes civilian casualties very likely," it said in a statement. "Therefore, the military's contention that they did not mean to kill civilians in Beit Hanoun is disingenuous lip service."
United States And Britain Back Up IOF Military Offensive Against Beit Hanoon
The US and British governments exonerated Israel of its responsibility of committing collective killing against the Palestinian citizens in Beit Hanon. US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack on 4 November, 2006 put the blame for the offensive on Palestinian fighters and said Israel was defending itself. "It is a true tragedy that innocent life has been lost ..." McCormack said. "But let us remember, the situation originally developed because you have people -- terrorists -- continuing to launch rockets into Israel," he said. "Israel has taken steps to defend itself."
The American spokesperson refrained from calling Israel for self restrain as the French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy and the UN secretary General Kofi Anan did.
On its part, the British foreign ministry stated yesterday that Israel has the right to defend itself but any military act should go with the international human rights.
The ministry further called the Palestinians to stop firing missiles at Israeli areas adding that violence hinders peace efforts in the region. Palestinian U.N. observer Riyad Mansour said he sent letters to Annan and the presidents of the U.N. Security Council and General Assembly "requesting from them to do whatever they can to stop this aggression immediately" and to pressure Israel to withdraw its forces from Gaza. Annan expressed deep concern at the continuing escalation of violence and rising death toll and urged Israel "to exercise maximum restraint, do their utmost to protect civilians and to refrain from further escalating an already grave situation," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.