Saturday, January 07, 2006

Dr. Jack Shepard on the UN Petition: "Israel Stop Killing Us" -Posted 10 days after the Planned Murder of Iain Hook

Dr. Jack Shepard on the U.N. Petition:
"Israel Stop Killing Us"-
______________________________________

Posted 10 days after the Assassination Murder of Iain Hook by 64 U.N. staff and colleagues stationed in Israel and the Occupied Terroritories at the time of Iain Hook's Assassination!


U.N. Workers Petition Israel:Stop "Beating and Killing" Us
>>> On 3 December 2002, sixty-four U.N. workers issued a stunning petition. Stationed in Israel and the Occupied Territories, they demanded that the Israeli military stop "beating and killing" them.


You might think that such a strongly-worded statement sent by more than five-dozen United Nations workers to the "Middle East's only democracy" would be highly newsworthy. Apparently not. Among the very few media outlets to cover it were Reuters, the BBC, the Independent (London), Ha'aretz (Jerusalem), and the Jerusalem Post. Notice that all these sources are British or Israeli. Not one American media outlet has covered the story.
Below, I have excerpted all of the direct quotes from the petition that are used in the articles. Below that, you'll find what seems to be the full text of the petition, which was posted to
IndyMedia Israel. While I, of course, cannot vouch for the authenticity of that posting, it does contain all of the quotations from news articles.

Quotes from the petition,
as reported in various news articles

"We write to express our absolute condemnation at the senseless killing of Iain Hook in Jenin on November 22. Based on publicly available information, we condemn the Israeli army in the strongest possible terms for this wanton act against an unarmed man--a man shot in the back by a military sniper while negotiating with the Israeli army to evacuate the women, children, and UN staff who were in the UN compound at the time."
....
"For two years United Nations staff have been subject to escalating harassment and violence by Israel's military, so that the protection supposed to be afforded by the blue letters of the UN is being steadily eroded... UN staff--international and Palestinian alike--have been verbally abused, stripped, beaten, shot at, and killed by Israeli soldiers."
....
"From its silence, we presume the Israeli authorities have ignored UN requests for an investigation and report of these two incidents, and have not seen fit to take any disciplinary action against the soldiers involved.
To us, this seems to confirm a pattern of utter contempt on the part of the Israeli army for the lost lives of these men, the safety of UN staff, or the minimum standards imposed by international law which should protect UN staff and other humanitarian workers."
....
"In these tragic circumstances, rather than easily uttered regrets, we expect the Israeli government take the necessary steps to stop the harassment, beating and killing of UN staff."
The petition, as posted to Israel IndyMedia
December 3, 2002


To whom it may concern,
_____________________________________________________________
We, the undersigned,
are staff members of the United Nations,
but we write in our personal capacities.
All of us work in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
bringing badly needed humanitarian relief to a population in distress.
In the course of our duties we have witnessed much tragedy on both sides of the conflict. We have come from all over the world to work, without bias or favour, to try to alleviate some of the pain and suffering that has for too long afflicted this land.

Now we find that, once again, tragedy has touched us.
For us, expressions of sadness and grief are not enough.
The diplomatic language of the bureaucrat will not suffice.
We write to express our absolute condemnation at the
senseless killing of Iain Hook in Jenin
on November 22.
Based on publicly available information,
we condemn the Israeli army in the strongest possible terms for this wanton act against an unarmed man--a man shot in the back by a military sniper
while negotiating with the Israeli army
to evacuate the women, children and UN staff
who were in the UN compound at the time.

Our condemnation is reinforced
by the knowledge that the soldiers refused to allow an ambulance called to evacuate Iain
to travel the last few yards needed to reach him.
Instead, UN staff
here [were] forced to seek an alternative route to rescue him.
This caused a delay and made sure
that the work done by a bullet was completed by the Israeli army's refusal to respect the most elementary standards of humanity.

The shock of that day's events does not come in isolation.
For two years, United Nations staff have been subject to escalating harassment and violence by Israel's military,
so that the protection supposed to be afforded by the blue letters
of the UN is being steadily eroded.

UN staff--international and Palestinian alike--have been verbally abused, stripped, beaten, shot at and killed by Israeli soldiers.
There has been armed interference with UN employees and vehicles, including attacks on UN ambulances and medical personnel.
UNRWA schools, health clinics and offices have been hit by bombs, rockets, tank shells and gunfire even during daytime,
thereby endangering the lives of staff and,
in the case of schools, the lives of refugee children.
Buildings occupied by UN staff have been repeatedly damaged during Israeli airforce bombing.

Tragically Iain Hook
was not the first person working with the UN
to die at the hands of the IDF this year.
In March, Kamal Hamdan was shot and killed
while travelling in a clearly marked UNRWA ambulance in the West Bank.
In April, Husni Amer died
in Israeli military custody in Jenin after,
according to witnesses, receiving a brutal beating by the soldiers at the time of his arrest.
From its silence, we presume the Israeli authorities
have ignored UN requests for an investigation
and report of these two incidents,
and
have not seen fit to take any disciplinary action against the soldiers involved.
___________________________________________________
To us, this seems to confirm a pattern
of utter contempt on the part of the Israeli army
for the lost lives of these men,
the safety of UN staff
or
the minimum standards
imposed by international law which should protect UN staff and other humanitarian workers.

The official military spokesperson's statement
on the initial investigation
into Iain's killing asserts that shots were fired from UNRWA's compound in the Jenin refugee camp towards Israel's forces. This contradicts eyewitness accounts of our colleagues in Jenin and the information relayed to UNRWA's Field Office by Iain just prior to his death.
The most charitable characterization one can make of this statement is that it lacks any credibility.
To us, it has all the makings of propaganda
designed to tarnish the reputation of the UN,
excuse the killing of an unarmed man and perpetuate
the false charge that UNRWA shelters terrorists, in the public mind.
We strongly request that any investigation carried out by the Israeli government will be independent, transparent and impartial.
We strongly request
that the Israeli government will bring those responsible for Iain's killing promptly to justice.
Only the most lawless societies
allow gunmen in uniform the impunity to kill
aid workers without fear of punishment.
We are confident Israel does not wish to see its troops painted
in the same colours as the militiamen
who have stalked some of the world's other conflicts.

As UN staff, we expect the protection of the Israeli government
to enable us to undertake our humanitarian responsibilities
wherever they are needed.
This is not a matter of courtesy or favour,
but rather an implementation of
Israel's own obligations
under international law
and its express commitment to UNRWA to facilitate the Agency's operations in the occupied territories.

Israel's often stated regret at the loss of civilian lives is not an impervious shield that can deflect all criticism. It is a shield that is, in our view, tarnished by the attempts of Israeli spokespersons to link Iain's death to wider political issues or to claim that the UN was somehow culpable for his killing.
____________________________________________________________
In these tragic circumstances,
rather than easily uttered regrets,
we expect the Israeli Government
take the necessary steps to stop the harassment, beating and killing of UN staff.
________________________________________________________________
We expect respect and protection as United Nations employees.
As international staff members, we hope and expect to return alive to our own countries and families after our work here is done.
We hope and expect no less
for our Palestinian colleagues
so they can live and work in safety until the parties to the conflict eventually find the road to peace.
__________________________

Sally Airs, Australia; Naomi Ando, Japan; Ignacio Artaza Zuriarrain, Spain; Alan Barnie, Australia; Peter Bartu, Australia; Pamela Bell, USA; Susan Brannon, USA; Marlise Brenner, Australia; Deidre Connolly, USA; Marisa Consolate Kemper, Canada; Joanna Corbin, UK; B. Scott Custer Jr., USA; Omar Dajani, USA; Calvin Dasilvio, USA; Isabelle dela Cruz, Germany; Marc De la Motte, Italy-France; Mark Dennis, USA; Ray Dolphin, Ireland; Juliet Dryden, UK; Teresa Fallarme, Philippines; Jean-Marie Frentz, Luxembourg; Christopher Gabelle, UK; Jagannathan Gopalan, India; Philippe Grandet, France; Pentti Hakonen, Finland; Roger Hearn, Australia; Grigor Hovmannisyan, Armenia; Thierry Kaiser, France; Sima Kanaan, Jordan; Elizabeth Kawambwa, Tanzania; Jan Kolaas, Norway; Antje Kunst, Germany; Marc Lassouaoui, France; Brett Lodge, Australia; Ali Mahmuda, Canada; Henrik Mathiesen, Norway; Carlos Mazuera, Columbia; Paul McCann, UK; Amanda Melville, Australia; Severine Meyer, France; Zeina Mogarbel, Spain; Merethe Nedrebo, Norway; Gustav Nordstrom, Finland; Patrick O'neil, Ireland; Melissa Parke, Australia; Joachim Paul, Germany; Alex Pollock, UK; Gerhard Pulfer, Austria; Timothy Rothermel, USA; Sam Rose, UK; Ehab Shanti, Canada; Shahwan Huda, Jordan; Jean-Luc Siblot, France; Guy Siri, France; Elna Sondergaard, Denmark; Juerg Staudenmann, Switzerland; Angelo Stefanini, Italy; Gretta Van Bleek, Netherlands; Arjan Van Houwelingen, Netherlands; Andrew Whitley, UK; Hanna Wintsch, Switzerland; Cecilia Wreh-McGill, USA; Ros Young, UK; Kirsten Zaat, Australia