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March 12, 1993 - Image 133

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-03-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Israelis Accuse
UNRWA Worker

erusalem (JTA) — Israeli
politicians are up in arms
about an American United
Nations worker they claim
did nothing to stop the mob
lynching of an Israeli who
ntered a Gaza Strip refugee
_amp by mistake last week.
The worker, Catherine
Striker of the United
Nations Relief and Works
Agency for Palestinian
Refugees, witnessed at least
art of the attack in which
dozens of Palestinian youths
stoned Yehoshua Weissbrod
and shot him dead in a
brutal murder that has
shaken the nation.
Knesset members from
oth the governing coalition
and the opposition are
"demanding that Ms. Striker
be fired from her position
and expelled from the coun-
try.
But UNRWA has defended
her action. The agency- said
in a statement that the mob
revented Ms. Striker from
approaching Mr.
Veissbrod's car and that she
did try to summon outside
help. .
The army said it was con-
ducting an inquiry into the
incident. Foreign Minister
'himon Peres said during a
meekly Cabinet session that
if the U.N. worker was found
to have ignored the lyn-
ching, Israel would launch a
formal complaint.
The demand to expel Ms.
triker was shared by Labor
nesset member Ori Orr,
chairman of the Knesset
Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee. Mr. Orr said he
was basing his demand on
information from the
:Military.
) Mr. Orr said that if it were
established that Ms. Striker
ignored the lynching, then
she should be suspended
from her duties at once, and
the Foreign Ministry should
' remand her expulsion from
[the country.
Relations have always
been sensitive between
Israel and UNRWA, the
agency created to look after
Palestinian refugees and
upply them with food, hous-
ing, educational and medical
ervices.
Israel allows UNRWA per-
sonnel to monitor conditions
and run certain operations
lat refugee camps in the West
Bank and Gaza Strip. It also
operates at Palestinian
refugee camps in Arab coun-

tries such as Jordan, Leb-
anon and Syria.
UNRWA claimed there
was not much Ms. Striker
could have done to save the
life of Mr. Weissbrod, a gas
company employee who
mistakenly entered Rafah
refugee camp March 2 on his
way to conduct business
near the Israeli-Egyptian
border.
A spokesman for UNRWA
in Geneva said that each and
every one of its workers was
obliged to save human life
and that anyone failing to do
so would face disciplinary
measures.
The initial Israeli version
of events is that when Ms.
Striker arrived on the scene,
after the attack had begun,
she was told by several peo-
ple what was going on.
They reportedly asked her
to prevent the murder or at
the very least summon help.
However, according to this
testimony, Ms. Striker ig-
nored the pleas and drove off
without intervening at all.
But a spokesman for
UNRWA in Gaza said that
Ms. Striker arrived at the
scene by chance and noticed
an Israeli-licensed car sur-
rounded by large crowd of
people.
"As the official approach-
ed, she noticed that there
was a motionless body in the
car. At this point, she re-
peatedly tried to get close,
but was prevented from do-
ing so by the crowd," the
U.N. spokesman said.
"After more unsuccessful
attempts to get near, in what
was certainly a highly ex-
plosive and volatile situa-
tion, and many equally
futile endeavors to contact
the UNRWA headquarters
in Gaza town by radio, she
sped out to the nearest and
safest location, an UNRWA
installation 500 meters
away, in order to raise alarm
over the phone," he said.
Ms. Striker returned to the
scene after failing to
summon help, the spokes-
man said, but it was too late.

Mr. Weissbrod's brutal
murder in the Gaza Strip, as
well as a bloody stabbing
spree a day earlier by a
Gazan Palestinian that left
two Israelis dead on Tel Aviv
street, have renewed calls by
some Israelis for a unilateral
withdrawal from the Gaza
Strip.

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