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U.N.: No evidence of Israeli massacre at Jenin

One diplomat who had seen the report said both the Israelis and Palestinians were "equally brutal."  

From Richard Roth

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- A U.N. report on events at the Jenin refugee camp released Thursday found no evidence to support a Palestinian claim that 500 people were killed there by Israeli forces earlier this year.

The report concludes that the Palestinian death toll is a "figure that has not been substantiated in light of the evidence that has emerged." The Israeli Defense Forces put the death toll at 52, the report notes.

U.N. report on Jenin 
The battle of Jenin 

Israel launched a military operation in Jenin in April after a series of suicide bombings that killed more than two dozen Israeli civilians. Israeli officials claimed the refugee camp was the base for most of the bombing attacks.

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However, the report criticizes both sides, saying they acted carelessly and "equally badly" when it came to protecting human life. The report concludes both the Israelis and Palestinians were "equally brutal."

The report criticizes Israeli forces for not allowing emergency vehicles, humanitarian workers and journalists into the camp in some cases. It also criticizes Palestinian forces for deliberately placing themselves in civilian areas, forcing the Israelis to hunt for them among civilians.

Because Israel refused to cooperate with the U.N. investigation, the report's authors never went to Jenin or related camps. It was written based on newspaper stories, submissions from six U.N. member countries and accounts from Palestinians and non-governmental organizations.

Because of this, the report offers indirect comments, rather than subjective judgments, according to one diplomat who has seen the document.

After the violence in Jenin, Israel first accepted a U.N. mission. But it balked after Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed a team led by three experienced diplomats, rather than military figures.

After the U.N. Security Council declined to support the mission in the face of Israeli opposition, the U.N. General Assembly voted in favor of issuing a fact-finding report on what happened in Jenin.

At the behest of Arab countries, the General Assembly will meet Monday to hear speeches based on the report.




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