Thursday, October 14, 2004

Israel retracts UN "missile" allegation

Adding insult to genocide, Israel has been flinging ludicrous allegations around at the UN:

The Israeli army has retracted its accusation that Palestinian resistance fighters in
Gaza used a UN ambulance to transport a rocket for firing at Israel.

The UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) said it needed a full public apology to safeguard the security of UN staff operating in the area.

Israel raised a stir at the United Nations last week with its accusation against the Gaza-based UN agency which hinged on a blurry video recorded by an airborne military drone.

An army statement on Wednesday said an inquiry concluded "the nature of the object loaded on the vehicle cannot be determined with certainty. Thus the determination that the object loaded was a Qassam rocket was too unequivocal and made in haste."

UNRWA said the Israeli statement was insufficient.

"We are asking for an apology that is just as well publicised as the original accusation," spokesman Paul McCann said. "Not for the sake of wounded pride but to assist in the safety of our staff."

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed to Israel to handle future complaints "through normal diplomatic channels ... so that the matter may be properly investigated".

Israel originally asserted that a long, thin object that was photographed being loaded into a vehicle with UN markings was a Qassam rocket, a crude type of weapon frequently fired by Palestinian resistance fighters at illegal settlements and towns in southern Israel.

UNRWA said the object was a stretcher, not a rocket.

The Israeli army on 5 October backed away from the accusation and removed the video from its website, saying doubts had been raised that warranted further investigation.

An Israeli security source said the fact that one person had lifted the object "suggested it was not heavy enough" to be a rocket.

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