UN official gets first hand taste of Kassam attack

Tuesday, November 21, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
When the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights decided to visit the city of Sderot, she didn't expect to be this close to the action, as she was a first-hand witness to a Kassam attack on the city where a man was critically injured when a rocket landed in a factory where he worked Tuesday morning.

The UN official, Louise Arbour, was visiting Sderot Tuesday morning when a salvo of Kassam rockets hit the city in several locations as they were entering the city from a visit to the Gaza Strip. "They (the rockets) landed a few hundred yards away from where we were," said a spokesman for the commissioner who was on the scene. "She was in a car but the delegation had parked very briefly when we heard very loud explosions. There were two plumes of smoke," he said.

Arbour joined Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal and went to tour the site where the rocket had landed. However, Arbour and her delegation were not able to closely examine the site because of a suspected ammonia leak caused by the explosion.

In addition, the commissioner was not received with open arms as workers of a local factory drove her away after saying she and the UN were one sided favoring the Palestinians, and not sympathizing with the plight of the Israeli residents of Sderot and the western Negev who are bombarded on a regular basis.

A spokesman for Arbour said Tuesday after the visit that the position of the UN High Commission on Human Rights is that Israel "has a responsibility to defend its citizens, but has to do so only by legal means. It has to do so in line with international law, including international humanitarian law, but it has a primary responsibility to protect people who are under its authorities."

Despite these words, however, Arbour did not make any statements condemning the Tuesday attack.

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