United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, former Canadian Supreme Court Justice, Louise Arbour received a barrage of criticism in Israel a day after her comments regarding Israel's continuing atrocities commited against the civilian population of Palestine.
Yesterday, Louise Arbour toured the battered town of Beit Hanoun. Residents took the U.N. High Commissioner through houses destroyed by Israeli artillary fire; fire that has claimed the lives of at least 19, wounding more than fifty others. It was for Arbour the beginning of a five day visit to the area,planned to culminate in an audience with Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Omert.
After hearing survivor's stories, and walking through the rubble of destroyed houses, Arbour decried the attacks, saying; "The call for protection [of civilians] has to be answered. We cannot see civilians, who are not the authors of their own misfortune, suffer to the extent of what I see here."
Just what extent of suffering would beacceptable to Arbour is not mentioned, but clearly her mild rebuke of Israel's military solution to the Palestinian problem went too far for some Israeli's in the border town of Sderot, the next stop on her tour, where her car was stoned, and at one point the motorcade mobbed, and Arbour's car rocked.
As if to underscore repeated complaints of Palestinian Kassam rocket attacks agianst border towns like Sderot, a rocket landed within a few hundred metres of Arbour's entourage while she toured alocal factory, killing a worker. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) claim more than a thousand Kassams have landed in and near Sderotthis year, killing at least one previoius to today's fatality, though the IDF numbers are in dispute.
While Arbour toured Sderot, the IDF launched another "incursion" into Gaza at Zeitun and Beit Lahiya. Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency says a column of thirty tanks and armoured cars entered Zeitun, while an unspecified number of soldiers moved into Beit Lahiya on "point liquidation," or assassination missions against those the Israeli military believe are involved in firing rockets into Israeli [sic] territory.
Though Arbour denounced those firing rockets into Israel, the press there has been highly critical of the ommissioner and the United Nations of being biased against Israel. The families of three Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Palestinians added their objections to Arbour for her refusal to meet with them. The three soldiers were,according to the IDF, the reason for numerous invasion campaigns since launched into Gaza and the occupied territories last Spring, and the Summer's invasion of Lebanon.