UN chief Ban Ki-Moon condemned Israel for hitting schools in Gaza while admitting they were routinely used by terrorists to launch rockets against civilians.
A United Nations inquiry into last summer’s Gaza war confirmed that at least three UN schools were used by Palestinian terrorists to hide weapons and that rockets were likely fired from them on at least two occasions. Despite this, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon criticized Israel for hitting UN facilities in Gaza, which resulted in at least 44 deaths and 227 wounded.
“I am dismayed that Palestinian militant groups would put United Nations schools at risk by using them to hide their arms,” Ban wrote in a cover letter for the UN Board of Inquiry report. “It serves to undermine the confidence that all concerned should have that United Nations premises are civilian objects and may therefore not be made the object of attack.”
“The three schools at which weaponry was found were empty at the time and were not being used as shelters. However, the fact that they were used by those involved in the fighting to store their weaponry and, in two cases, probably to fire from is unacceptable,” he added.
At the same time, Ban condemned Israel for hitting UN facilities during Operation Protective Edge, which the IDF launched in order to restore the security of Israeli civilians living under constant rocket fire and to destroy Hamas terror tunnels.
“Regarding the seven incidents in which death or injuries occurred at, or damage was done to, United Nations premises, I deplore the fact that at least 44 Palestinians were killed as a result of Israeli actions and at least 227 injured at United Nations premises being used as emergency shelters,” Ban said.
In its response to the report, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said: “Israel is committed to working jointly with the UN in order to improve the security of UN facilities in the Gaza Strip, with special emphasis on preventing such exploitation by terrorists. Moreover, Israel is prepared to extend its assistance to UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency), with the aim of preventing the recurrence of circumstances under which UN facilities are used to carry out terrorist activity, in blatant violation of international law, and in a manner that gravely endangers civilians, including UN staff.
“All of the incidents attributed by the report to Israel have already been subject to thorough examinations, and criminal investigations have been launched where relevant,” the MFA added. “Israel makes every effort to avoid harm to sensitive sites in the face of terrorist groups who are committed not only to targeting Israeli civilians, but also to using Palestinian civilians and UN facilities as shields for their terrorist activities.”
By Sara Abramowicz, United with Israel
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