UN expert warns Caterpillar Inc. over Israeli use of bulldozers to demolish Palestinian houses, orchards
A UN-appointed specialist said Wednesday that he has warned Caterpillar Inc. that Israel's use of bulldozers to demolish West Bank orchards and houses could make the company an accomplice in the violation of basic human rights of the Palestinians.
Jean Ziegler, the United Nations' special expert on the right to food, said he forwarded a letter to Caterpillar chief executive James Owen expressing concern "about the actions of the Israeli occupation forces in Rafah and in other locations in Gaza and the West Bank."
According to The AP, Ziegler said his letter was the first under a new resolution passed earlier this year by the 53-country UN Human Rights Commission extending responsibility for protecting rights beyond governments to "non-state actors."
Ziegler wrote to Owen under the letterhead of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the overall UN watchdog, and sent his letter on his own as he is entitled to do, a spokesman said.
The Israelis are "using armoured bulldozers supplied by your company to destroy agricultural farms, greenhouses, ancient olive groves and agricultural fields planted with crops," the May 28 letter said.
Ziegler, a Swiss university professor, told The Associated Press that he had yet to receive a response from the company.
"Allowing the delivery of your D-9 and D-10 Caterpillar bulldozers to the Israeli army through the government of the United States in the certain knowledge that they are being used for such actions might involve complicity or acceptance on the part of your company to actual and potential violations of human rights, including the right to food," Ziegler wrote in his letter.
The Israelis have also used the bulldozers to destroy "numerous Palestinian homes and sometimes human lives, including that of the American peace activist Rachel Corrie," he said.
Ziegler, appointed by the UN Human Rights Commission, said after a 10-day visit to Gaza and the West Bank last year that Israel was confiscating fertile Palestinian land for military zones or Jewish settlements.
"We saw thousands of olive trees destroyed by bulldozers," he said. (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)