Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Detaining the United Nations

Published on Tuesday, December 23, 2008 by Foreign Policy in Focus

by Phyllis Bennis

"........ The decision to keep Falk out fits a pattern of Israeli efforts to hide the human consequences of the siege of Gaza and of the escalating settlement expansion in the West Bank. Denying entry to the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights is part of the same occupation playbook as keeping Palestinian human rights defenders such as Raji Sourani, director of the Palestine Center for Human Rights, locked up in Gaza and denied the right to leave to speak to the outside world. It's at one with the Israeli policy of blocking international journalists who might report on the spiraling humanitarian crisis (especially in Gaza). The same goal is evident in the beating and effort to intimidate the few Palestinian journalists who do manage the rare opportunity to get out and tell the world, such as Mohamed Omer, the young Gazan winner of the prestigious Martha Gellhorn Prize in Britain.

Falk's detention and exclusion echo earlier Israeli moves to deny access to other UN human rights monitors. Most notably, perhaps, Archbishop Desmond Tutu was denied entry when he was appointed by the United Nations to conduct a special investigation of the 2006 attack on Beit Hanoun in Gaza in which the Israeli Defense Forces killed 18 people in a single house. (Tutu was only able to carry out the investigation, 18 months after the attack, when Egypt was pressured to open its crossing at Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.)......."

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