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                             ISRAEL
                              FAXX

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 camp.

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 counting.

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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