UN mission chief attacked in Gaza

Gunmen attempt to kidnap UN refugee mission leader from UN marked vehicle.

Hamas masked gd224.8 (photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas masked gd224.8
(photo credit: AP [file])
Three masked Palestinian gunmen fired on a vehicle carrying the chief of the UN refugee mission in Gaza and tried to kidnap him, the UN official said. No one was hurt in the kidnap attempt in northern Gaza, said John Ging, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency in Gaza. Ging said he, a driver and a security official were traveling in an armored vehicle when the gunmen jumped out of a white Subaru and opened fire. "They tried to force open the car, but our driver extracted himself from that situation," and sped away as the gunmen continued firing, he said. "This is a shocking development. We are still considering how to deal with this," Ging said. The vehicle was clearly marked with the UN insignia and a UN flag, he said. Eleven bullets pierced the car, Ging added. The incident took place about half a mile (one kilometer) from the Erez crossing into Israel, he said. No one claimed responsibility. UNRWA has about 11,000 staffers operating in the Gaza Strip, the overwhelming majority of them Palestinians. The mission includes eight foreigners, and at a news conference after the attack, Ging said his agency would consider scaling back its foreign staff. Because the vehicles that were fired upon were so clearly marked, there are "some very serious security implications for us and for our staff," he said. Backup staff from overseas will not be brought in, and the agency will "review the necessity for the staff that are here at the moment," he said. Also Friday a PA Intelligence officer affiliated with Fatah was shot and killed in the village of Deir el-Balah, in the Gaza Strip. Israel Radio reported that armed Palestinians, whose identities were unknown, stopped the vehicle in which two PA Intelligence officers were traveling. After a brief argument with the gunmen, both officers were dragged out of the car and shot. The second officer was seriously wounded in the attack, which came just one day before the newly-formed PA government was set to be sworn in at the Palestinian parliament. The PA Military Intelligence is affiliated with Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and many of its members have been involved in clashes with Hamas in the recent infighting. Earlier this week, Palestinian gunmen from Hamas and Fatah exchanged fire in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, killing a local Hamas leader and wounding seven people in the most serious flare up of violence since the power-sharing deal was struck last month. Gunmen also kidnapped a BBC reporter in Gaza City, Alan Johnston, who remains in captivity, his whereabouts unknown.