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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
May 9, 1996 V4, #85
All the News the Big Guys Missed
U.N. Version of Attack Infuriates Israel
By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israel has sharply criticized the United Nations for drawing, what
it says are, unjustified conclusions about Israel's role in last
month's artillery attack on a UN base in Lebanon. About 100
civilians were killed in the attack. Israel calls the findings
of the UN report on the incident absurd and accuses the UN of
harboring Hizbullah terrorists in the base.
The report says it is unlikely Israel's shelling of the base at
Qana in south Lebanon was the result of technical and procedural
errors, as Israel has insisted.
The report stops short of saying Israel fired deliberately. But the
report challenges Israel's version the April 18 incident was the
result of wrong labeling on a map.
The UN version of what happened has outraged Israelis. Briefing
journalists in Jerusalem, army officials explained the
miscalculations in the heat of battle that led to Israeli artillery
firing on the UN camp in response to a Hizbullah rocket attack.
Army spokesman Lt. Col. Moshe Fogel commented: "We mislocated by
150 meters, which might not seem like a lot but when you are
dealing with this type of situation it has its consequences. We
have to take split second decisions and those split second
decisions in this case turned out very tragically, and we
understand that we made a mistake, but to say that it was
intentional is really to distort the truth."
The army spokesman showed a film taken during the attack from a
pilotless reconnaissance aircraft, called a drone. Pointing out
the cloudy conditions at the time, the commander of the drone
said the aerial surveillance gave no hint refugees were in the
But the UN report disputes Israel's contention it had not been
told refugees were taking shelter in the base. The report's
author says it is irrelevant. He said you do not fire on a UN
base, whether or not there are civilians.
The report says the UN force in Lebanon took no action to dismantle
a Hizbullah mortar site near the camp. It says two or three
Hizbullah fired rockets only 350-meters from the UN compound, then
entered the camp, though it is unclear exactly when.
Priebke Nazi Trial Opens in Rome
By Peggy Polk (VOA-Rome)
A trial has opened in Rome for a former Nazi SS officer who is
charged with homicide in connection with the World War 2 massacre
of 335 Italians. The 82-year-old defendant, Erich Priebke, could be
sentenced to life in prison, if convicted.
The massacre took place in 1944, in the Ardeatine Caves near Rome's
Catacombs. The victims were 335 Italian men and boys, including
Roman Catholic priests, 75 Jews and a 14-year-old boy. They were
shot and killed in retaliation for a partisan attack in the center
of Rome in which 33 German soldiers had died a day earlier.
Historians have said the executions were personally ordered by Nazi
leader Adolf Hitler. Ten Italians were intended to die for each
German. But an extra five were killed because of an error in
Erich Priebke admitted at a preliminary hearing that he killed two
of the victims, and had called out the names of 100 others to be
led to their deaths in the caves. His lawyer said the defense
intends to show that he was just following orders.
The Los Angeles based Simon Wiesenthal Center, which has helped to
track down a number of former Nazis, said in a statement that it is
especially appropriate that the Priebke trial began on the
anniversary of the Allied World War 2 victory in Europe 51 years
ago, and one day after the opening of the first trial of a Yugoslav
war crimes suspect in The Hague.
The statement opposed a controversial suggestion from Rome's Chief
Rabbi, Elio Toaff, that because of his advanced age, the defendant
should be held under house arrest rather than in prison.
The prosecution seeks a sentence of life in prison on charges of
multiple homicide aggravated by cruelty. A verdict is expected by
the end of the month.
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