Jenin: charity calls for investigations of atrocity reports

 Christian Aid has received reports of Palestinian bodies being dumped in mass graves by Israeli soldiers, outside Jenin refugee camp, in the West Bank. A spokesperson said the reports, from the charity's partner organisations working in the West Bank, cannot be verified because humanitarian agencies and press have been refused permission to enter the area. However, he said: "the accounts are of sufficient gravity to warrant an immediate and independent investigation." Mrs Rima Awad, of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC), a Palestinian non-governmental organisation funded by Christian Aid for the past 20 years, visited the town of Jenin on Sunday (April 13). PARC had organised a humanitarian aid convoy which delivered food, blankets and medicines to the people of Jenin, including many hundreds who had fled the nearby refugee camp which was shelled by Israeli helicopter gunships for eight days. She said: 'Hundreds of shells fell on the camp that houses some 15,000 refugees. On the fourth day the army called on the people through loudspeakers to evacuate their houses before they started demolishing them. 'They gave the people an hour to leave. Many left with only the clothes in which they were standing. In the confusion and panic, mothers left some of their children behind, some of elderly were unable to move fast enough, and others decided to stay. 'Eyewitnesses report that mass graves have been dug outside the camp by the Israeli army to bury the dead and to conceal the extent of the killings.' At this stage, these reports cannot be independently verified, which is in itself a great cause for concern. In a statement issued today, Christian Aid calls for: 1. Israeli forces to withdraw immediately from all Palestinian towns and cities occupied in the recent invasion. 2. Immediate and unrestricted access for emergency humanitarian services to reach those in need. 3. The suspension by the EU of its Association Agreement with Israel (granting privileged trade status) if these conditions are not met. 4. The creation of space to allow Palestinians to begin rebuilding their shattered infrastructure and to allow humanitarian workers to operate freely. 5. An international protection or monitoring force to help maintain the cease-fire and protect human rights, as well as to provide security against suicide attacks on Israel. 6. An immediate start to negotiations to bring peace and security to the region through the creation of an independent, viable Palestinian state, implementing UN resolutions in full.

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