As usual, only half a story made it to the media in initial reports — and that half made the headlines first. But at least this time UNRWA made an effort to clarify the facts quickly. Credit where credit is due.
Hamas terrorists were engaged in a firefight with IDF soldiers just outside the UNRWA boys’ school in the southern Gaza border town of Rafah. It’s the same town where IDF 2nd Lt. Hadar Goldin and two other Israeli officers were killed in a Hamas attack Friday morning about 90 minutes after the start of a humanitarian cease fire agreed to by both Israel and Hamas.
An IAF aircraft allegedly struck the entrance to an UNRWA school in the southern Gaza border town of Rafah Sunday morning, local sources initially reported, saying about 10 were killed and 30 others were wounded.
IDF gunfire was aimed at the Hamas terrorists who were firing at them on Sunday outside the gates of the school — not at the school itself, and not at any civilians within. The IAF air strike was targeting gunmen escaping on a motorcycle who were firing at the IDF soldiers; not at the school, nor at the civilians nearby. But they were standing outside the gate, and they were caught in the crossfire precisely as the terrorists intended.
Once again, Hamas used those sheltering at an UNRWA school as human shields. UNRWA official Richard Engel confirmed the fact in a tweet.
“those killed and injured were apparently around the gate of the UN school…not a direct hit inside the school compound.”
Nevertheless, the photo op of people carrying bloodied bodies of children and women, injured and dying, weeping next to an UNRWA school, far outweighed any cold facts that might have been stated later on.
“Shelling incident in vicinity of UNRWA school in Rafah sheltering almost 3,000 IDP. Initial reports say multiple deaths and injury,” tweeted Chris Gunness at 10:40 am in a post on the Twitter social networking site.
But by 11 am, he had already considerably toned himself down, telling Britain’s Sky News only that the school had been hit and calling on “all sides to respect the neutrality of UN premises.” But in fact, the school wasn’t hit. The area outside the school was hit. Gunness added, accurately, that sanitation is a huge problem — not a surprise in a war zone — and talked about the logistical needs of providing for the thousands seeking UN assistance.
Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists have deliberately fired rockets and mortar shells at IDF soldiers from within UNRWA civilian structures in order to draw Israeli fire towards the innocent Gaza civilians who are sheltering within the buildings.
Three UNRWA schools have so far been documented — by UNRWA itself! — to be weapons ‘warehouses’ for Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist groups. A former International Red Cross building packed with explosives built into the very walls of the structure was deliberately ‘dressed up’ with an UNRWA sign to appear to be a United Nations facility, within which a tunnel shaft was hidden, and booby-trapped.
It’s impossible to know how many more United Nations buildings have been commandeered by Hamas and are hiding terrorist weaponry. There has been no comment from the IDF. After the last such incident, Israel was roundly condemned by the United Nations, despite the fact that the IDF was returning fire to the source of an unprovoked attack.
It remains to be seen how the United Nations Human Rights Council will react this time.