Palestinians are paying for Holocaust guilt: Tutu

Says West fails to stop Israel and stays silent about injustice


Palestinians are paying the price of the West's guilt over the Holocaust through its failure to pressure Israel to reach a just and lasting peace, South African Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu said Thursday.

"I think the West, quite rightly, is feeling contrite, penitent for its awful connivance with the Holocaust," the massacre of Europe's Jews by German Nazis in World War II, Tutu told journalists.

"Now when you are contrite, when you are penitent, you are then ready to make amends, and we call that penance. The West is penitent, the penance is being paid by the Palestinians," said the archbishop who was famed for his anti-apartheid activism.

"I just hope that ordinary citizens in the West will wake up and say, 'we refuse to be part of this'," Tutu added after presenting a report on the Israeli shelling of the Palestinian village of Beit Hanoun to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Tutu also accused the West of involvement in Palestinian suffering by its silence and criticized the international community for failing to speak out against the suffering in Gaza, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, under an Israeli blockade.

"It is the silence of the international community in the face of what is happening there which most offends. This silence begets complicity," he said.

Beit Hanoun a "war crime"

Tutu had been mandated by the rights council to investigate the shelling in November 2006 which killed 19 civilians.

His report concluded that "in the absence of a well-founded explanation from the Israeli military... the mission must conclude that there is a possibility that the shelling of Beit Hanoun constituted a war crime."

Following an internal investigation, Israel concluded that shelling the civilians' homes was "a rare and grave technical error of the artillery radar system," and announced in February that no charges would be brought against Israeli forces involved in the incident.

But Tutu's report said that the "Israeli response of a largely secret internal military investigation is absolutely unacceptable from both legal and moral points of view."

"No verifiable explanation has been offered, no independent impartial and transparent investigation has been held, no one has been held to account," Tutu said.

Tutu also condemned rocket fire by Palestinian militants based in Gaza against Israeli civilians and said the Islamist Hamas movement in power in the coastal strip was responsible for ensuring it ceased.

"We long desperately for a situation in what many of us call the
Holy Land where people can live in peace and in security," Tutu told journalists.

But he stressed that "there's not the foggiest chance of peace ever happening until the human rights of all are respected and upheld."