Evidence of atrocities by Israeli troops in Jenin refugee camp grew yesterday when a British pathologist said he found "highly suspicious" wounds during the first autopsy on a victim.
Derrick Pounder, professor of forensic medicine at Dundee University, who is working with Amnesty International, visited the ruined camp and said: "Claims that a large number of civilians died and are under the rubble are highly credible.It is not believable that only a few people have been killed, given the reports we have that a large number of people were inside three and four-storey buildings when they were demolished."
The autopsy on the 38-year-old Palestinian revealed that "he was either shot in the foot, and then in the back, or shot in the back first – receiving a fatal wound – and his corpse was for some reason shot in the foot," he said. "Whichever order the shots occurred in, it was highly suspicious".
As the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, left for America yesterday, having failed to secure a ceasefire, international fury was growing over events at Jenin. The camp, home to 13,500 refugees, was stormed by Israeli forces a fortnight ago in what Mr Sharon called a counter-terrorism operation against Palestinian militants. The furore has severely damaged Israel's international standing, sending it to its lowest point for several decades.
Palestinians who survived the long battle – in which Israeli helicopters fired rockets and machine-guns into a densely populated area – have said the Israeli army committed many atrocities. Witnesses have described people being shot as they surrendered; houses being bulldozed with people inside; the use of human shields; the burial of 32 bodies in a trench, and one case of Israeli soldiers turning on the household gas supply before tossing a stun grenade into a room full of people.
Richard Cook, head of operations for Unrwa – the UN agency for Palestinian refugees – visited the camp yesterday. He said: "I was absolutely appalled. I anticipated it to a degree but the devastation was much greater than I expected."
The Foreign Office said "disproportionate and excessive" force had been used by Israel, and "clearly civilians were not properly protected".Reuse content