Israel blocks another UN fact-finding mission in Beit Hanoun | Bush's State Department not interested in pursuing the issue either

ei: Israel blocks another UN fact-finding mission:

Israel has shut down another internationally mandated investigation of its military actions. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and his high-level fact-finding mission, authorized by the UN's Human Rights Council, have been refused entry by Israel for so long that they have been forced to call off the visit. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mark Regev disingenuously claimed that Israel had not denied entry, but simply not yet reached a decision. The families of the 19 Palestinian civilians slain at Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip on 8 November 2006 will apparently not see even an approximation of justice at this time.

Tutu and Professor Christine Chinkin noted in an 11 December 2006 statement:

...We find the lack of co-operation by the Israeli Government very distressing, as well as its failure to allow the Mission timely passage to Israel. This is a time in our history that neither allows for indifference to the plight of those suffering, nor a refusal to search for a solution to the present crisis in the region.

State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack in his 9 November 2006 press conference made clear the United States is unprepared to push Israel on its investigation:

Well, look, we or nobody else can do an investigation. Israel is a democracy and as such it will look into these matters and determine what exactly happened. They have done that in the past. We, as well as others, when there have been terrible accidents around the world because of military actions, have investigated these things. If there were mistakes that were made that contravene regulations, we have held our own people to account and I expect that that is the same type of approach that the Israeli Government would take. That is the way democracies work.


[I]t's not up to the United States or anybody else to investigate this matter on the Israeli side. We have full faith that they will investigate it. They take this very seriously. They have-I think they understand exactly what happened and they are taking it seriously.

In other words, Israeli impunity seems certain to continue.

With American assurances such as those proffered by McCormack, there is little reason to doubt that Israeli officials thought they would be able to keep the international community out of any investigation. After all, in 2002 Israel successfully placed one impediment after another in front of the team of UN professionals that was supposed to investigate Israel's military actions in Jenin. Eventually, an impotent UN was unable to carry out an investigation of suspected war crimes. In regard to Jenin, Peter Bouckaert, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, declared in a 3 June 2002 press release:

The abuses we documented in Jenin are extremely serious, and in some cases appear to be war crimes. Criminal investigations are needed to ascertain individual responsibility for the most serious violations. Such investigations are first and foremost the duty of the Israeli government, but the international community needs to ensure that meaningful accountability occurs.

The international community never did hold Israel accountable. On 8 November more innocent Palestinian civilians paid a terrible cost for the ongoing failures of the international community.


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