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Hamas Caught Storing, Shooting Rockets from UNRWA School In Flagrant Violation

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) released a statement today condemning the storage of rockets in one of its schools in Gaza.

Yesterday, in the course of the regular inspection of its premises, UNRWA discovered approximately 20 rockets hidden in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip. UNRWA strongly condemns the group or groups responsible for placing the weapons in one of its installations. This is a flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law. This incident, which is the first of its kind in Gaza, endangered civilians including staff and put at risk UNRWA’s vital mission to assist and protect Palestine refugees in Gaza.

Immediately after discovery, the Agency informed the relevant parties and successfully took all necessary measures for the removal of the objects in order to preserve the safety and security of the school. UNRWA has launched a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding this incident.

The statement isn’t clear if the “relevant parties” are the same as the “group responsible” violating UNRWA’s property.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that though UNRWA didn’t identify the guilty party, the discovery effectively confirms Israeli charges of Hamas involvement.

Israel regularly accuses Hamas and other Gaza militants of using civilian installations to store and launch rockets, including during the current conflict that began on July 8.

Patrick Martin, a reporter for the Globe and Mail, reported yesterday that as he left a UNRWA school that was housing refugees, rockets were fired nearby.

Heading toward the exit, we were overwhelmed by the jet-like sound of two rockets being launched from somewhere near the school. Hamas, or some or militant group, clearly is hoping the Israelis won’t strike at the launchers, which are kept underground until the moment of firing, because they’re close to the school and so many refugees.

As the Hamas-made missiles screamed off into the sky, leaving a white vapour trail, the kids all cheered. One older boy of maybe 12, shouted in Arabic “They’re R160s,” named for the late Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi who was assassinated by Israel in 2004. These are the big, long-range rockets usually reserved for Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or the airport in between.

In The Real Palestinian Refugee Crisis, which appeared in the May 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine, Assaf Romirowsky observed that UNRWA “not only perpetuates the refugee problem, but has, in many ways, exacerbated it. In doing so, it has made Israeli-Palestinian peace all but impossible.”

[Photo: Associated Press / YouTube ]