UN Secretary General: Palestinian militants put UN schools at risk during Gaza war

Risk created by the hiding of weapons at UN premises being used as emergency shelters.

UNRWA school damaged by fighting in Gaza (photo credit: REUTERS)
UNRWA school damaged by fighting in Gaza
(photo credit: REUTERS)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon charged that Palestinian militants had stored weapons in three UN facilities during last summer’s Gaza war and that such action was “unacceptable.”
“I am dismayed that Palestinian militant groups would put United Nations schools at risk by using them to hide their arms,” Ban said on Monday as he released a summary of a Board of Inquiry probe into events that occurred in UN facilities in July and August.
“The three schools at which weaponry was found were empty at the time and were not being used as shelters,” Ban said. "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 also took Israel to task for shelling neutral UN facilities and killing or injuring Palestinians sought shelter there from the bombings that occurred during Operation Protective Edge.
“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.
He based his statements on the conclusions of the Board of Inquiry which he established in November. On Monday he submitted to the UN Security Council a full report from the Board.
The actual 207 page document was not made public, but Ban published its conclusions in a letter to the UNSC in which he spoke against actions by both Israel and Hamas with regard to UN facilities.
The Foreign Ministry said in response that “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 using Palestinian civilians and UN facilities as shields for their terrorist activities.”
The report was published in advance of a controversial UN Human Right Council report which is expected to charge Israel with war crimes for its actions in Operation Protective Edge.
Israel refused to cooperate with the UNHRC report, but it did work with Ban on his report.
“When asked to assist in a professional ad unbiased inquiry, Israel responded in a collaborative, open and forthcoming manner," the Foreign Ministry said.
It did so, even though it has some concerns with regard to the report, the Foreign Ministry said.