For the second time in a week, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has found rockets in one of its schools in Gaza. The first time, the agency gave the rockets back to Hamas. Condemning the placement of rockets in schools, they announced plans this time again to give them back to Hamas.
In a Tuesday statement, UNRWA said,
Today, in the course of the regular inspection of its premises, UNRWA discovered rockets hidden in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip. As soon as the rockets were discovered, UNRWA staff were withdrawn from the premises, and so we are unable to confirm the precise number of rockets. The school is situated between two other UNRWA schools that currently each accommodate 1,500 internally displaced persons.
UNRWA strongly and unequivocally condemns the group or groups responsible for this flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law.
UNRWA failed to mention Hamas by name, and failed to note that launching rockets from a civilian area is using the civilians as human shields, a war crime. The agency continued (emphasis added):
The Agency immediately informed the relevant parties and is pursuing all possible measures for the removal of the objects in order to preserve the safety and security of the school. UNRWA will launch a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident.
UNRWA has reinforced and continues to implement its robust procedures to maintain the neutrality of all its premises, including a strict no-weapons policy and regular inspections of its installations, to ensure they are only used for humanitarian purposes.
Palestinian civilians in Gaza rely on UNRWA to provide humanitarian assistance and shelter. At all times, and especially during escalations of violence, the sanctity and integrity of UN installations must be respected.
According to the Times of Israel,
Last Wednesday, UNRWA found some 20 rockets in a school under its auspices, also during a standard inspection. A spokesperson for UNRWA said the organization gave the rockets to “local authorities,” which answer to the Hamas-backed unity government led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “According to longstanding UN practice in UN humanitarian operations worldwide, incidents involving unexploded ordnance that could endanger beneficiaries and staff are referred to the local authorities,” UNRWA’s director of advocacy and strategic communications, Christopher Gunness, told The Times of Israel Sunday.
After Finding Hamas Rockets In 2 UN Gaza Schools, UN Gives Rockets Back To Hamas