Tuesday 15 October 2002

Palestinian territories largest jail in world, says British envoy

The 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 Monday.

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 Gilad.

"The territories are the largest detention camp in the world, in which 3.5 million people live," the daily quoted the British diplomat as assaying. 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.

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