UNRWA lies, denies terrorists' presence in Jabalya schoolUNRWA has rejected an IDF investigation that concluded that terrorists were present in the Jabalya school in which 30-40 civilians were allegedly killed on Tuesday.
United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesman Chris Gunness said terrorists are not allowed in its schools, and he demanded an "impartial" probe into IDF reports that Hamas shot mortars next to a school. He said he did not know off hand what constitutes an impartial body.Asked about the October 2007 incident in which video evidence (link includes video) was presented that terrorists were shooting mortars from a UNRWA schoolyard, Gunness had this to say:
"If there have been violations on either side, we want those responsible brought to justice," he told Israel National News. He added that he cannot comment on the IDF report that it shelled a UNRWA school because terrorists were attacking soldiers with mortars from within the building.
"Allegations that UNRWA facilities are used by militants are always investigated and we will cooperate so our name can be cleared," Gunness stated.
He also said he wants proof of the IDF claim that terrorists were killed in the shelling.
Concerning the 2007 video of mortar attacks from a school in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, Gunness explained that the terrorists entered after the building was deserted. The UN had evacuated children and teachers because of an Israel military operation and terrorists moved in afterwards, he added. "We did not open the doors" for them.But the terrorists wouldn't have to be in the school to expose the school to danger and to effectively use those inside it as human shields. Consider this report from al-Ap (Hat Tip: Hot Air):
Gunness also said that the UNRWA teacher who was discovered to be a rocket manufacturer in his off hours was sacked and that his family did not receive pensions that usually are granted to workers.
Two residents of the area who spoke by telephone said they saw a small group of militants firing mortar rounds from a street near the school, where 350 people had gathered to get away from the shelling. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.Israel's history with UNRWA goes back much longer than October 2007. Let's take one example: Jenin 2002. But first, if you have not done so in the last 24 hours, please vote for Israel Matzav as Best Midsize blog in the 2008 Weblog Awards by going here.
An Israeli military statement said it received intelligence that the dead at the girls school included Hamas operatives, among them members of a rocket launching cell. It identified two of them as Imad Abu Askar and Hassan Abu Askar.
Two residents who spoke to an AP reporter by phone said the two brothers were known to be low-level Hamas militants. They said a group of militants — one of them said four — were firing mortar shells from near the school.
An Israeli shell targeted the men, but missed and they fled, the witnesses said, refusing to allow their names to be published because they feared for their safety. Then another three shells landed nearby, exploding among civilians, they said.
Palestinian militants have frequently fired from residential areas in the past.
Now, on to Jenin. Here's what UNRWA had to say about it after the dust settled:
In the early hours of 3 April 2002, as part of Operation Defensive Shield, the Israeli Defence Forces entered the city of Jenin and the refugee camp adjacent to it, declared them a closed military area, prevented all access, and imposed a round-the-clock curfew. By the time of the IDF withdrawal and the lifting of the curfew on 18 April, at least 52 Palestinians, of whom up to half may have been civilians, and 23 Israeli soldiers were dead. Many more were injured. Approximately 150 buildings had been destroyed and many others were rendered structurally unsound. Around 435 families were rendered homeless.But that's not what UNRWA had to say right after the battle.
Peter Hansen, the commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) told a Danish newspaper, the Internatavisen Jyllands-Posten, on April 19, that 300-400 Palestinians had been killed in Jenin. He told CNN: "I had, first of all, hoped the horror stories coming out were exaggerations as you often hear in this part of the world, but they were all too true" (CNN, April 19, 2002). CNN correspondent Rula Amin gave her own impressions of "a lot of destruction, a lot of devastation" (CNN, April 17, 2002).And what really happened in Jenin? First of all, there was no massacre:
As of May 1, there were 54 bodies found in Jenin -- not 500 [as claimed by Saeb Erekat of the 'Palestinian Authority' or 300-400 as claimed by UNRWA. CiJ] -- according to Israeli military sources. Palestinian officials, on the ground, now verify the Israeli numbers: Mousa Kadoura, director of Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization for the northern West Bank, claims 56 Palestinians died in Jenin (Washington Times, May 1, 2002). Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has stated that only seven civilian casualties have been identified (Israel Foreign Ministry Press Release, April 20, 2002). These limited Palestinian casualties were due to the fact that Israel did not employ massive air strikes or artillery barrages in Jenin, but rather sent its vulnerable ground forces to engage in house-to-house combat. As a result, Israel lost 23 soldiers in the battle. Essentially, Israeli soldiers lost their lives in order to keep the collateral deaths of Palestinian civilians to a minimum.And how did those 'Palestinians' die?
Palestinians admit that they employed large amounts of explosive devices in Jenin. There were booby-trapped buildings and explosive devices configured as anti-personnel mines. Captured Islamic Jihad operative Tabeat Mardawi told CNN that 1,000-2,000 explosive devices had been prepared. An Islamic Jihad bomb-maker from Jenin told Al-Ahram Weekly: "We had more than 50 houses booby-trapped around the camp" (MEMRI, April 24, 2002).Could UNRWA be lying again? Bet on it.
Still, the level of destruction was limited. Out of 1,896 buildings in the Jenin refugee camp, 130 buildings were destroyed -- or less than 10 percent (Israel Defense Forces -- Central Command). According to Fatah activist Mousa Kadoura, the area affected was the size of a large football field (Washington Times, May 1, 2002). Moreover, because of the large amounts of Palestinian explosives in the camp, it is difficult to discern what component of this destruction was caused by Israeli forces and what part was a result of Palestinian detonation.
UPDATE 12:55 PM
UNRWA is now 'only' 99.9% sure.
Christopher Gunness of the UN Relief and Works Agency, responsible for the school, said the agency was "99.9 percent certain there were no militants or military activity in its school."But here's the amazing part: an unbiased piece of reporting by Al-AP:
That would not necessarily contradict Israel's claim that the militants were just outside.If there were 1,300 people in the school and Israel had targeted it, you can bet that a lot more than 30-40 would have been killed.
Two residents of the area who spoke with The Associated Press by telephone said they saw a small group of terrorists firing mortar rounds from a street near the school. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. Gunness said 1,300 people were taking shelter from the shelling at the school.