Palestinian territories largest detention camp in
world, says UK envoy
By Nazir Majally
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, 15 October — Arab News (Saudi Arabia) British Ambassador to
Israel Sherard Cowper-Coles has told Israel that the
Palestinian territories are the world’s largest jail,
where harassment and humiliation are rife, the daily
Yediot Aharonot said yesterday.
An official at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv said
the report was “generally accurate but also highly
selective from a long conversation” which Cowper-Coles
held with the Israeli general overseeing the
administration of the occupied territories, Amos
“The territories are the largest detention camp in the
world, in which 3.5 million people live,” the daily
quoted the British diplomat as saying.
The ambassador toured the territories and told Gilad
he had seen “illegal (Jewish settler) outposts, new
roads, needless harassment and humiliation of the
civilian population at roadblocks,” the daily said.
He was also quoted as saying that Israel was “in
violation of the Geneva convention” and accused
Israeli forces of displaying “instances of a lack of
professionalism” amid reports about soldiers looting
property in the territories.
“I understand the security difficulties and I know
that the top echelon in the army is professional, but
specific acts of soldiers on the ground do not conform
to the Israeli interest,” he said, quoted by the
Five Israeli soldiers were jailed in May for up to
five months for having engaged in “looting” during the
army’s March and April invasion of the West Bank,
since when fresh accusations of pillage has arisen,
including charges that soldiers swiped goods from
Yasser Arafat’s offices during a siege there last
The British Embassy official said Cowper-Coles “was
raising concerns that we have, on instructions from
“The ambassador has been to the occupied territories
and was shocked by what he saw there,” said the
official, who asked not to be named.
In other developments, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon told the Israeli Knesset or Parliament
yesterday his country was prepared to defend itself
against attack by any Arab state using weapons of mass
destruction, an apparent reference to Iraq.
Sharon also called on the Palestinians to replace
their current leadership headed by President Yasser
Arafat with a “government of peace.”
Two members of Islamic Jihad were killed and a third
was wounded yesterday as Israeli troops opened fire on
the car they were driving near the West Bank town of
Jenin, Palestinian hospital sources told AFP. The dead
men were named as Mohammed Musa, 27, and Wassim
Sabari, 23, both from villages near the northern West
In what appeared to be assassination, three Apache
helicopters were overflying the area as tanks
surrounded the car near Kafr Qud, to the west of
Jenin, and opened fire on its occupants, an Islamic
Jihad official told AFP.
Soldiers arrested a third militant in the car who was
said to be moderately hurt.
Arafat, meanwhile, convened his Cabinet yesterday to
discuss his plans to form a new government.
Palestinian officials reiterated that Arafat was
expected to announce the new cabinet in the next few
days and that he was likely to bring in new ministers.
Arafat’s chief security adviser Col. Mohammed Dahlan
resigned yesterday because he did not want any
official position in the Palestinian Authority at this
time, sources closes to Dahlan said.