Israeli Tanks Sweep Into Hebron, Kill 2

The Israeli army accused Palestinians of piling bodies from an old cemetery into a mass grave in the Jenin refugee camp ahead of the eventual arrival of a UN fact-finding mission.

The army, quoting military intelligence sources, said in a statement posted on its Internet site that the "Palestinians are performing false manipulations in order to show greater damage than was actually inflicted."

"The Palestinians have begun moving bodies buried in the cemetery next to the (Jenin) government hospital prior to operation Defensive Shield into a mass grave of casualties of the operation," the statement said.

The army said 26 bodies were buried in the Jenin grave following the fierce nine-day battle that ended April 12, but the Palestinians added another 24 corpses from the Jenin hospital cemetery.

"This in order to display a larger number of Palestinian casualties that were allegedly killed during the fighting in the camp," the army said.

"Additionally, members of the Palestinian Authority issued an instruction to stop searching for bodies so that they will be found only in the presence of the UN committee."

The army charged the Palestinian Authority with setting up a special committee on the battle in Jenin to manipulate public opinion for the UN committee's visit. "The Palestinian committee does not hesitate to use acts of deceit and fraud," the army said.

The Israelis added that the Palestinian Authority had given camp refugees, whose homes were wrecked in the battle, money to rent homes in Jenin town.

"However, these homeless people were asked to arrive back in the refugee camp during daytime (the UN committee operating hours) and sit inside tents, after which they will return to their apartments in the city," it said.

The army accused the PA of asking residents in Jenin "to 'hide' any possible military evidence during the committee's stay in the camp, such as uniforms, weapons, and not to partake in any military activity whatsoever."

Israel on Friday sought a last-minute delay in the UN team's arrival, requesting that the three-member panel clarify which aspects of the Jenin clash it planned to investigate.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said he expected the UN team to fly from Geneva to Israel on Saturday but there was no clear indication what kind of reception the panel would receive.

The Israeli government has so far not issued authorization for the UN team to visit the northern West Bank camp, which witnessed the heaviest fighting in Israel's nearly month-long incursion into the West Bank.

Palestinians charge Israel with the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians, including many women and children, during the fighting which raged for nine days.,11868,189934,00. html

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