UN’s Ban Ki-Moon: ‘No Concrete Evidence’ That the Israeli Boys Were Actually Kidnapped
The kidnapping of three Israeli boys, one who is also U.S. citizen, sent shock waves through Israel and threatened to undo any progress made towards already tenuous peace goals in the area. Now, one week after United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon made a statement calling for restraint and the return of the boys, his spokesperson is now claiming that there is a lack of evidence that the kidnappings happened at all.
In his initial statement, Ban said that after the three boys were kidnapped from the West Bank the United Nations had “deep concern over the trend towards violence on the ground and its attendant loss of life, including today of a child in Gaza as a result of a recent Israeli air strike.” He also encouraged both sides to “exercise restraint and lend urgent support for the release and safe return of the three youths.”
Then on Tuesday night, Ban’s spokesperson, Farhan Haq actually seemed to retract the Secretary-General’s previous statement, saying that the UN had “no concrete evidence” that the kidnapping actually occurred and claiming the UN lacked an investigative unit to verify the claims.
The curious retraction, which first came to light in a Voice of Israel report, may be somehow linked to the increased pressure Israeli leaders are placing on the UN for action.
“Last Thursday evening, June 12, 2014, three Israeli youths were abducted – two of them only 16 years old,” Orly Levi-Abekasis, member of the Israeli Parliament wrote in a letter addressed to the UN head. “The kidnapping highlights, among other things, the breaking of all humanitarian boundaries and is a blatant violation of the rights of Israeli children to live their lives safely and without fearing for their lives.”
It may also be a reflection of the UN’s unwillingness to sanction Palestine, which is recognized as a non-sovereign member state by the UN.
“Since Ban had already acknowledged his awareness of the teens’ abduction last Saturday, his spokesperson appears to now be doing his best to help his boss climb down from the tree,” the Jewish Press speculated. “They may even be trying to pretend the incident may never have happened – because if it did, what action will have to be taken against the United Nation’s newest non-sovereign member?”
Regardless of the likely complicated reason behind Ban’s retraction, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, speaking from Saudi Arabia, has not denied that the kidnapping occurred and has encouraged whoever has the boys to return them home safe and sound.
“The three young men are human beings just like us and must be returned to their families,” Abbas said, accusing those responsible for the kidnapping of hurting, not helping the Palestinian cause.
Photo Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten