Gaza Casualties Disputed, UN Implies Killed Men
Are Not Civilians, Ban Takes No Questions
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
December 29 -- Deviating from the
way it reports casualties in conflicts from Darfur to the Congo, the UN
Monday announced that less than 65 women and children have been killed
Saturday in Gaza. Inner City Press asked UN Humanitarian Coordinator
Holmes who had decided to use this methodology, and how it contrasts
used by the UN and his Office in Darfur and the Congo. It's not a
Holmes answered, we were just trying to be helpful.
One wag asked, helpful to whom?
UN official, Karen AbuZayd of the UN Relief and Works Agency, said that
was dubious about the numbers, even that "a good lawyer" had told her
not to use them. Inner City Press asked her, in light of her report
Israel's air strikes are targeting "individual houses and individual
how these are being selected, whether they raise the presumption of
extrajudicial killing, and if UN human rights officials such as the
on the issue Philip Alston -- or the International Criminal Court --
contact in this regard.
described a process in which people receive phone calls telling them to
their houses, either because there are weapons in the houses -- she
how Israel could know this -- or because the residents include
senior leaders. She said her office has
not been in touch with the UN's human rights officials, but that she's
statements she agrees with. Click here
for Navi Pillay's statement. UNRWA's
web site does not appear to have been updated for these ten past
crucial days, or since December 18 as of December 29 at noon, click here
UN's Ban and AbuZayd, dispute on politicized casualty numbers not shown
As so often
happens at the UN, the questions fell along predictable political
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was leaving after reading a statement and
no questions, a correspondent from an Arabic cable channel shouted a
at him. Later a journalist from a Lebanese newspaper asked Holmes, the
humanitarian, to explain Ban's call for Arab foreign ministers to use
efforts to bring the conflict to a close. She asked, What did Ban mean?
was unable to answer. Ban said he had to meet "Ambassadors from the
region." But this has happened before, the unilateral statement with no
right-leaning US television network, on the other hand, emphasized the
of rockets at Israel. He also asked why pressure is not brought to bear
Egypt to open the crossing at Rafah. Holmes said its a problem of
"one way" access. But the "Arab street," as they call it, is
asking the same question of Egypt, albeit for a different reason. Why
civilians in the shooting gallery that is Gaza? Perhaps the UN should
advocate for women and children, to which they appear to limit their
of civilian in this conflict.
noted in an aside that some women may not be civilians. So is the UN's
going to go up -- or down?
Inner City Press has pursued
the Rafa crossing issue with Ambassador of Egypt, to be reported on
later today on this site - click here.
reported, Israel's UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev on December 23 met
with Ban Ki-moon. Inner City Press asked Ban's Deputy Spokesperson
at that day's noon briefing, what the meeting had been about. That the expiration of the cease fire in Gaza
would have been discussed seemed obvious. The question was intended to
whether any statement as to timing had been made by the Israeli
"We'll get you a readout," Ms. Okabe said. Video here.
December 23, Ban's Spokesperson's Office sent Inner City Press the
To: Inner City Press
Sent: 12/23/2008 3:31:10 P.M.
Eastern Standard Time
Subj: Your question at noon
Regarding the Secretary-General's
meeting with the Israeli Permanent Representative today, it was purely
"Purely a courtesy call"? That is the phrase used
diplomats who are leaving the UN visit the 38th floor for a final photo
opportunity with the Secretary-General. We'll see.
Click here for Inner
City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger
Click here from Inner City Press'
December 12 debate on UN double standards
Click here for Inner
City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics
Click here for Inner City
Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo
Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on
UN, bailout, MDGs
and this October 17 debate, on
Security Council and Obama and the UN.
* * *
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for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
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