The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, April 18, 2002  

U.N. Official Surveys the Wreckage in Jenin

The details are still sketchy and definitive conclusions are probably weeks away, but it appears that Israel's assault on the Jenin refugee camp was an appalling display of unbridled aggression.

United Nations envoy Terie Roed-Larsen, who toured Jenin today, said conditions there were "horrifying beyond belief" and that the "colossal suffering" caused by the assault was unjustified.

The Jenin camp in the northern West Bank has been the scene of the most intense fighting since Israel launched its assult on the occupied territories three weeks ago. "Israeli soldiers battled Palestinian gunmen in the camp for days, and Israeli shelling and bulldozers reduced large areas in the center of the camp to piles of rubble," reports the Associated Press.

After touring Jenin, the U.N.'s Roed-Larsen said, "We are shocked. This is horrifying beyond belief. Just seeing this area, it looks like there's been an earthquake here, and the stench of death is over many places where we are standing."

Roed-Larsen said he saw the dead boy of a 12-year-old boy who hard been burned. "Evidently, there are lots of other corpses. And the stench is telling its own story around here," the U.N. official said. Roed-Larsen estimates that some 2,000 residents of Jenin were rendered homeless by the Israel Defense Force's attack on the town.

Representatives of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent have been operating in the camp since Monday, April 15, the humanitarian aid groups lack the equipment needed to recover bodies and search the piles of rubble for survivors. Danny Ayalon, advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told the A.P. that Israel had begun letting some humanitarian aid teams to operate in Jenin, adding that more would be let in shortly and that the IDF would be out of the camp "very soon."

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