UN agency finds hand grenade in Gaza school

United Nations Relief and Works Agency condemns incident, calls on Hamas, the ‘de facto authorities,’ to respect the ‘inviolability’ of its premises

Palestinian schoolchildren studying at an UNRWA school in Gaza City. (IRIN/Creative Commons via JTA)
Palestinian schoolchildren studying at an UNRWA school in Gaza City. (IRIN/Creative Commons via JTA)

The UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees appealed to the Hamas terror group to respect the “inviolability of its premises” after a hand grenade and a military vest were found in one of its schools in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday.

In a statement, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency said that it “strongly and unequivocally condemns the individual or group responsible” and called on the “de facto authorities in the Gaza Strip to ensure that this inviolability is respected and upheld.”

UNRWA insisted that it has “reinforced” its procedures to keep its premises free of weapons but that “due to its funding crisis” it could “no longer afford to have guards at its 276 schools but carries out routine inspections.”

Last year, several countries suspended contributions to UNRWA over allegations that then-commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl had “engaged in sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority.” Krahenbuhl resigned as UNRWA director in November 2019.

During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, rockets were found in UNRWA schools on several occasions. In one of those cases, a spokesperson said the organization had delivered the rockets to “local authorities.” Israeli officials charged that the weaponry was returned to Hamas.

US President Donald Trump’s administration, along with Israel, accuses UNRWA of perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by extending refugee status to millions of descendants of Palestinians who fled or were forced out of homes in today’s Israel at the time of the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948, rather than limiting refugee status only to the original refugees as is the norm with most refugee populations worldwide.

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