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Wiesenthal Centre to UNICEF: "Dismiss Deputy Executive Director as an Agent of Palestinian Terrorist Propaganda"


Paris, 11 April 2005

In a letter to Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations' Children's Fund (UNICEF), Dr. Shimon Samuels, Director for International Liaison of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, noted, "Last year, you assured the Wiesenthal Centre of UNICEF's determination to condemn incitement to hate and terrorism among Palestinian children and to ensure impartiality in positions on the Middle East conflict."

Samuels protested, "Your Deputy Executive Director, Toshiyuki Niwa, has now violated that commitment by his statement condemning Israel for the death of 'three Palestinian children while at play in the Gaza strip.' Palestine Authority officials, last Saturday, confirmed that five Palestinian youths were spotted crawling toward a terrorist arms smuggling point on the Israel-Egypt border near Rafah. Indeed, when challenged, three of them ran at the Israeli border post, which opened fire. Following the incident, Palestinian police questioned the two remaining members of the group and reported that they had intended to infiltrate Egypt to bring back weapons."

Samuels pointed out, "That same day, the Palestine news agency WAFA, ( field=Enews&id=2418), announced that 'Saturday at noon, three boys - two aged 15 and one 14 - were killed on the spot, when Israel Occupation Forces opened fire at them while they were playing football.'"

The letter added, "For the last three years, PBC Palestine television has regularly shown propaganda films of actors in Israel Defence Forces uniforms supposedly killing Palestinian children playing football. Screened deliberately for youth in the afternoons, they have served to incite recruitment for suicide bombers. Indeed, Saturday's showing violated PLO Chairman Mohammed Abbas' moratorium on incitement."

The Centre charged that UNICEF had compounded the distortion when Niwa declared, "They were playing football with their friends… just being kids when their lives were cut short… this event hits me particularly hard because I have been [sic] in the area just a few hours earlier, interacting with Palestinian children."

The Centre also contended that "UNICEF will thus be perceived as endorsing lies that foster the culture of death, unless it immediately condemns this agitation and dismisses Deputy Executive Director Niwa as an agent of Palestinian terrorist propaganda."

Samuels concluded, "Failure to act will make UNICEF co-accountable for violence resulting from the hatred to which Niwa's statement has contributed."

For further information, please contact Shimon Samuels at +33 6 09 77 01 58.