Foreign Ministry slams UNRWA for 'jumping to conclusions' in Kalandiya incident

United Nation’s Relief and Works Agency condemned Israel for killing UN man during Monday riot; Foreign Ministry not happy.

August 27, 2013 21:57
2 minute read.
IDF clashes with Palestinians in Kalandiya, August 26

IDF clashes with Palestinians in Kalandiya 370. (photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)


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In an unusually blunt attack on the United Nation’s Relief and Works Agency, the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday called on the organization to “return to its original humanitarian agenda” and refrain from “one-sided political advocacy.”

Only in this way, the statement said, could UNRWA “hope to be taken seriously – both by Israel and the international donor community.”

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The Foreign Ministry was responding to a press release the organization issued Monday condemning Israel for the death of UN worker Rubin Zayed, a 34-year-old father of four. The agency said this occurred during the IDF operation Monday in Kalandiya where three Palestinians were killed after security forces came under attack while carrying out an arrest.

According to the UNRWA press release, “credible reports say that he was on his way to work and was not engaged in any violent activity. He was shot in the chest.”

The Foreign Ministry statement said that without prejudicing the outcome of the IDF investigation that has been launched, “we were disappointed (but not surprised) at UNRWA’s press statement from yesterday. While omitting to mention any context or reason for the Israeli operation, it was quick to cite ‘credible reports’ in determining that its employee had been shot ‘on his way to work, and was not involved in any violent activity.’” “Quite aside from the fact that UNRWA did not even bother to approach any official Israeli sources for comment, its statement was rushed to the press while the violent riots were still raging on in Kalandiya,” the statement said. “Hence, it begs the question of how it was possible for the agency to collect forensic evidence, cross reference personal eyewitness reports and reach peremptory conclusions – all of that in the space of just a few hours.”

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness responded by saying the organization has “six independent eyewitnesses corroborating UNRWA’s original report. We absolutely stand four square behind the story.”

Gunness said the press release was issued on Monday night, not as the event was unfolding, as was stated in the ministry statement.

He also said that UNRWA had two separate conversations during the day with Israeli authorities, “one civilian and one military,” contrary to Foreign Ministry claims.

Regardless, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, “they came to their conclusions with supreme celerity. They jumped to conclusions, whereas in any other past cases where UNRWA had to investigate itself, it pleaded patience and forbearing.”

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