|REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE|
21 November 2006
Elena Ponomareva-Piquier, Chief of the Press and External Relations Section, chaired the briefing which also heard from Spokespersons for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the UN Refugee Agency, the World Health Organization, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Organization for Migration.
High Commissioner for Human Rights Visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Praveen Randhawa of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that yesterday, 20 November, the High Commissioner had commenced a five-day visit to the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel. Ms. Arbour had gone to Beit Hanoun yesterday morning, where she had seen sites hit by Israeli artillery earlier this month, killing 19 civilians. The High Commissioner had said the call for protection had to be answered; they could not continue to see civilians, who were not the authors of their own misfortune, suffer to the extent of what she had seen. Ms. Arbour had said later that the full extent of the profound sense of deprivation in Gaza had become truly evident when one came to the territory. In the case of the attack in Beit Hanoun, an independent, credible and thorough inquiry was needed to examine where responsibility lay.
The High Commissioner had also held talks in Gaza with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as with arrange of civil society representatives, including human rights defenders, Ms. Randhawa said. Today, the High Commissioner had travelled to the Israeli town of Sderot, the target of rocket attacks from militants in Gaza, and would see the separation barrier in the West Bank. As she arrived, a Qassam rocket exploded less than 500 yards away. In that context, Ms. Arbour had observed that Governments had a duty to protect their people; however, she had added that had to be done within the bounds of human rights law and international humanitarian law.