UN spokesperson: Israel must defend its citizens
United Nations commissioner for human rights witnesses Qassam attack on Sderot
during visit to city, says rocket fire illegal
Ines Ehrlich Published: 11.21.06, 11:36
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour's visit to a
Sderot factory, where a worker was seriously injured by a Qassam rocket, ended
with a brawl.
UN spokesperson in Israel, Christopher Gans told Ynet: "Arbour regrets the
events. She said the fire is illegal, even if it is directed at military
targets. It's a flagrant violation of international law."
"The government of Israel has a responsibility to protect its citizens, like
any government and it must do this within the law; within the human rights and
the humanitarian law," said Jose Diaz, the spokeman for the United Nations
High Commission for Human Rights.
"We have been consistent about condemning such attacks and Louise Arbour
condemned it again this morning, there is no question about it - these kinds
of attacks with these kinds of weapons violate humanitarian law," he added
Diaz told Ynetnews of the difficult scenes Arbour witnessed in Sderot: "Our
visit to Sderot was traumatic as we personally witnessed an attack. As we were
driving into Sderot we heard a loud explosion and a rocket landed 200 meters
away; we went to the actual site but couldn't examine it closely, because
officials feared there was a gas leak, so we had to leave the site.
"We went to a daycare center and met with children some of whom were with
their parents. Some were adolescents, some young teenagers and some as young
as 9-10 years old. It was hard to tell if they were traumatized but while we
were at the daycare center there was either a drill or another attack, or a
fear of another attack, and everyone was told to go inside, children were told
to face the wall as they had practiced in their drills. It was quite a
striking scene seeing all these children lined up against the wall, not the
kind of thing any human being wants to go through," he said.
Diaz said that Arbour discussed efforts to bring Israel and Palestinian gunmen
to agree to a ceasefire during talks with President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday.
Moyal told Arbour that Sderot has been suffering Qassam attacks for six years.
A Sderot Municipality official said Arbour was embarrassed by the reaction of
workers at the Qassam-stricken factory as they hit UN vehicles and shouted
slogans accusing the UN of being biased against Israel.
"I came here to see what is happening and hear about how the residents feel,"
she told workers before being interrupted, forcing police to lead her away.
"Look how these children do kindergarten activities in the shelter, that's
their routine," Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal said.
Arbour said Tuesday's attack underlines the need for peace between Israel and
The military wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for
Tuesday's attack and vowed not to stop firing rockets into Israel.
Dorit Siton, Ali Waked and Shmulik Hadad contributed to this report
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