Monday, April 29, 2002

Israel is playing quite the game with the proposed Jenin investigation, stringing the whole thing out as long as possible to allow Israeli troops to clean up their handiwork as much as possible. Each time the U. N. meets his demands, Sharon comes up with something else. Can anyone now doubt that the Jenin brutality is on an historical scale, matching any of the great massacres of our time? There is a lesson to be learned from this, one that should be applied to Jenin and to every subsequent scene of a crime against humanity. Israeli troops did their barbarism while carefully excluding all journalists. They then excluded rescue and humanitarian assistance to the survivors, both to inflict further brutality and to prevent the rescue workers from seeing and reporting on the scenes of violence before the Israelis managed to clean things up (thus committing a crime against humanity in trying to hide a crime against humanity). Once the investigators arrive, the scene will be largely sanitized, and the Israelis will claim that you cannot trust the testimony of the Palestinian victims (such arguments have already been made). It should be a principle of evidence in human rights law that the party who has blocked a timely investigation of the physical evidence while in possession of the scene of the alleged crime is estopped from questioning the evidence given by the only witnesses to the alleged crime. Israel may not like the testimony of the Palestinians, but it hardly lies in Israel's mouth to question it when Israel itself has prevented proper access to corroborating physical evidence.