The official United Nations report on Jenin, released on Thursday afternoon, declares that the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) did not commit a massacre in Jenin in April, despite Palestinian claims that up to 500 civilians were killed.
The IDF attack on April 3rd began with the deployment of helicopter gun ships, heavy artillery and tanks. The use of such equipment in a densely-populated civilian area was denounced by the UN report as having put civilian lives at risk but the official death toll during the attack is set at 52 Palestinians (26 civilians and 26 gunmen) and 23 IDF personnel. Also criticised was the practice of the IDF not to allow humanitarian and medical personnel into the area and the use of civilians as human shields during the operation.
But it was not only the Israelis that came in for criticism in the report. The Palestinian practice of placing gunmen in the middle of civilian areas was also denounced for the same reason.
Experts claim that the clear-up operation is likely to take up to three years, due to the great quantity of unexploded ordnance (hand grenades, bombs, tank and artillery shells). Progress is slow due to the high number of explosives under the rubble, where there are reported to be 5 bodies.
Israel has claimed that the report is nothing more than a collection of press cuttings but Tel Aviv refused to cooperate from the start with the UN investigators, it is not clear why. Islamic Jihad and Hamas claim that the figure of 75 people killed is too conservative.
The 500 claimed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad may be too liberal but while there are huge amounts of rubble, bodies still decaying under the carcasses of houses and hundreds of rounds of unexploded shells, it is interesting how the UNO comes up with the exact figure of 75.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru