Won't get fooled again?

Jerusalem has doubts about UN's Gaza investigator as Nepal guerrillas claim to have deceived him in 2007.

gaza strike smoke 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
gaza strike smoke 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
A boast last week by Maoist guerrillas in Nepal that they were able to fool a UN mission headed by Ian Martin has spilled over into the Middle East, with Israel's Foreign Ministry saying that if Martin was fooled by terrorists in Nepal, he could easily have been fooled in the Gaza Strip as well. Martin was the head of a UN board of inquiry that last week issued a damning report of Israeli actions in the Gaza Strip, saying that Israel shelled six UN installations. In 2007, Martin was the head of the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) that was involved in peace negotiations there between the government and Maoist guerrillas. UNMIN was responsible for screening the number of guerrillas, who were then incorporated into the country's army. In a video that surfaced last week, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the head of the guerrillas at the time, was seen telling his fighters that their number had been greatly inflated, from 7,000-8,000 to over 30,000. Dahal went on to become prime minister, but resigned last week over differences in handling civil unrest. "Thanks to the inflation," said the Times of India on Monday, "even after UNMIN screened the PLA [Maoist People's Liberation Army] to determine how many were bona fide fighters and how many recruited illegally after the peace pact, the number became 19,602, giving the former guerrillas a good opportunity to increase their grip on the national army once the PLA was merged with the state." A UN spokesman said the mission in Nepal stands by the numbers included in Martin's report despite the video claims. Israeli officials, nonetheless, said they had questions. "These allegations cast a long shadow over the Gaza board of inquiry's reliability," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said on Tuesday. Another diplomatic source said the Nepal example "shows the inadequacy of someone who has to deal with real life, and approaches the facts with incredible innocence." The source said that if Martin failed to get the facts right when dealing with terrorists in Nepal, who can believe he got it right in Gaza, where he was also dealing with terrorists. Issued last week, the UN report on Gaza found that during Operation Cast Lead, the IDF was responsible for fatalities and damage in six cases of attacks on UN compounds. A Foreign Ministry statement released at the time denounced the findings. "The committee has preferred the claims of Hamas, a murderous terror organization," the statement said, "and by doing so has misled the world." Allison Hoffman contributed to this report.