UN chief says deaths at Gaza schools to be probed
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UN chief says deaths at Gaza schools to be probed

Ban Ki-moon adds weapons storage at UNRWA facilities in Strip should also be investigated

Ban Ki-moon speaking at a UN forum on September 9, 2014. (photo credit: UN/Loey Felipe)
Ban Ki-moon speaking at a UN forum on September 9, 2014. (photo credit: UN/Loey Felipe)

The UN is preparing to investigate the targeting of UNRWA schools and deaths of the organization’s workers in Gaza during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in an interview published Wednesday.

The investigation will be separate from the UN Human Rights Council commission looking into possible war crimes committed by Israel, he told Arabic daily Al-Hayat, adding that there is also a need to investigate the discovery of weapons stored in UNRWA facilities in Gaza during the conflict.

Israel was blamed for several attacks on UNRWA schools that were housing refugees during the seven week conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

On July 30, several shells slammed into a crowded UN school used as shelter for refugees in the Gaza war early on Wednesday, killing at least 15 people and wounding 90. Israel later said that soldiers were responding to fire from the area when they fired several tank shells that hit the facility.

Palestinians gather outside a classroom at the Abu Hussein UN school in Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, allegedly hit by an Israeli strike earlier, on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinians gather outside a classroom at the Abu Hussein UN school in Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, allegedly hit by an Israeli strike earlier, on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. (photo credit: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

In a similar incident a week earlier, 16 people died when shells hit a UNRWA school. The UN and Hamas blamed Israel, but after an investigation, the IDF said that while one of its shells had hit the school, it had not caused any casualties.

UNRWA admitted to finding weapons stored in their facilities on three occasions during the conflict, but did not say if an investigation would be launched.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said that because the schools were closed for summer vacation and were not being used to shelter Palestinians, there was no staff present to monitor what was going on at the sites.

Israel called for the UN to probe the matter.

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