Monday, November 25, 2002

Israel is ethnically cleansing the Occupied Territories of Palestinians using a number of techniques, but the main method now seems to be starvation. One of the sole agencies standing between the Palestinians and utter annihilation is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The Israeli military has now shot and killed an employee of this agency, Mr. Iain Hook. Initially, they claimed he was killed in an exchange of fire so it was unclear whether he was killed by the Palestinians or by the Israelis, then that he was killed in error in the course of a gun battle with Palestinians, some of whom were firing from a UNRWA compound (UNRWA doesn't accept these explanations, and denies that there was any firing from its compound). In fact, it appears that any Palestinian firing had stopped two hours before Mr. Hook was shot, and he may very well have died due to the Iraaeli Army prohibiting a clearly marked UN ambulance from evacuating him and transporting him for nearly an hour. When it turned out the Palestinians weren't shooting, the Israelis claimed he was killed 'in error', as they mistook his cell phone for a grenade (or perhaps a gun). This seems unlikely, as he should have been recognized by the Israelis. He seems to have hurried out of the UNRWA building with his cell phone as he was arranging the evacuation of UN workers from the compound. Israelis and their U. S. (and Canadian) supporters have been using the argument that UNRWA is actually a supporter of terrorism, and therefore it should be abolished or at least the United States should stop funding it. Of course, another method to make it impossible for UNRWA to operate would be simply to start killing its employees in cold blood. If, as has been alleged, the Israelis then made the ambulance take a longer detour to the hospital rather than go through one of its checkpoints, it will become certain that the newest in the line of Israeli crimes against humanity is the slaughter of relief workers. Mr. Hook's job was arranging for the rebuilding of homes that were destroyed in the Jenin massacre, so his death must have been particularly satisfying (I wonder if they just tried to kill any UNRWA employee, or whether, since they were aware he was unsuccessfully trying to convince them by phone to cease fire long enough so the UN workers could be evacuated, he was particularly targeted for symbolic reasons).