UN Envoy Cuts Short Tour of Hebron Because of Friction with Army
The UN special coordinator for the Middle East cut short a tour of the centre of the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron because of tensions with the Israeli army, an AFP correspondent said.
Terje Roed-Larsen was prevented by soldiers from entering a Palestinian school in the heart of Hebron's Old City that had been transformed into a military post since the eruption of Israeli-Palestinian violence almost 10 weeks ago, the correspondent said.
Asked about the incident, Roed-Larsen told journalists only that children should be able to go to school.
An aide to the UN official, who on Tuesday published a grim report about the economic crisis gripping the West Bank and Gaza Strip, played down the incident.
"It is not accurate to say that we were prevented from entering the school but there was friction with the soldiers because of a lack of coordination (between the UN and the army)," the aide, John Bruce told AFP.
The AFP correspondent at the scene said journalists covering the visit were pushed around by Israeli soldiers.
In November, UN human rights chief Mary Robinson's convoy came under fire while she was touring Hebron during a visit to the Palestinian territories to check on the human rights situation.
The city, where some 400 extremist Jewish settlers living in armed enclaves among a total Palestinian population of some 120,000, is frequently the scene of clashes and Palestinian residents in the city center have been under curfew for much of the past two months.
Under a US-brokered January 1997 agreement, Israel withdrew its troops from four-fifths of Hebron, retaining control of 20 percent of the city where the settlers live -- HEBRON (AFP)
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