UN Human Rights Chief Held up by Israeli Tanks in Gaza
The UN's top human rights official Mary Robinson was held up for an hour and a half by Israeli tanks on a tour of Gaza Saturday while fighting raged between Israeli troops and Palestinians, an AFP correspondent reported.
United Nations officials were negotiating with Israeli army officers the whole of the time before Robinson's car and some of those accompanying her were allowed to pass.
Three tanks blocked the road between Gaza City and Khan Yunis in the wake of a battle near the Jewish settlement bloc of Gush Khatif that saw two Palestinians shot dead and two Israeli troops wounded.
Robinson had been on a three-hour tour of the Gaza Strip where she saw a UN school allegedly damaged by Israeli gunfire, a grove of century-old palms uprooted and greenhouses said to have been smashed by Israeli troops.
She expressed her concern and asked about what compensation the owners might expect.
Robinson said Friday that the Middle East peace process must include respect for human rights, including self-determination and refugees' right of return.
Robinson visited the Shifa hospital in Gaza, where she saw Palestinians wounded by Israeli bullets and said she understood concerns about "the excessive and disproportionate use of force here."
Robinson, who arrived in the region Friday, was scheduled to go to Jerusalem later Saturday and then travel to Egypt and Jordan.
On Wednesday, she will meet with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, her spokeswoman Veronique Taveau told AFP in Geneva.
Robinson's aides have taken pains to note that her visit to Israel has been planned since February and that it was not linked specifically to an October 19 resolution by the UN Human Rights Commission calling on her to travel urgently to the region to investigate Israeli actions against Palestinians – GAZA CITY (AFP)
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