The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) has come under increasing fire in recent weeks for aiding Hamas in the terror group’s war against Israel, with one advocacy group lodging a formal complaint against the organization. As evidence seems to continue to emerge of the use of the agency’s schools and clinics as Hamas storehouses, rocket launching sites and tunnel entrances, protest has grown in Israel and abroad that the organization, established to aid the Palestinian Arab refugee population, has far exceeded its mandate by aiding and sustaining the psychological and physical assault on Israeli civilians and infrastructure.
At the same time that evidence was mounting that the UN agency was allowing Hamas to use its facilities to launch attacks on Israel, a number of statements were issued by UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon criticizing Israel for use of disproportionate force. In response, the Legal Forum for Israel drafted a letter to Moon decrying his accusations and denouncing the lack of accountability by the international body for its role in the violence.
Several thousand attorneys from around the world signed the August 15 letter, which called Moon’s statements “shocking, deceitful and totally inaccurate” in light of the extraordinary efforts made by the IDF to minimize civilian casualties at the cost of its own soldiers’ lives, especially when compared to the continued appropriation of UN facilities by Hamas in its war on Israel.
“We are shocked at your utter disregard of the fact that the very UN premises of which you accuse Israel of attacking, have been cynically abused by Hamas and used as store-houses for ammunition, and launching pads for rockets,” read the statement.
“Rather than falsely accusing Israel,” the letter continued, “one might have expected that as the executive head of the UN, you would have admitted responsibility of the UN for such abuse of its facilities, and instituted a thorough inquiry as to how and why UNRWA facilities were placed at the disposal of the Hamas terror organization, how and why the UN officials responsible for such facilities permitted this situation to occur, and why those rockets and other weapons that were discovered in such facilities were transferred to Hamas, for their continued use against Israel’s citizens.
“In permitting the storage of weapons, and in transferring such weapons into the hands of Hamas,” the letter asserted, “the UN has in fact permitted itself to become accessory to the commission of war crimes.”
The statement concluded by calling on Moon to conduct a “high-level inquiry” of these infractions and to bring its perpetrators within the organization to justice, and charged that the Secretary-General’s “exaggerated, selective, biased and often false accusations against Israel and [his] total disregard of the truth have irreparably discredited [him] and the UN.”
Last Friday’s death of four-year-old Daniel Tragerman, killed in his home by mortar fire originating near a UNRWA school close to the Gaza-Israel border, capped a string of incidents involving UN facilities in Gaza. On July 30, IDF troops operating in Khan Yunis discovered a terror tunnel that had been dug inside a UNRWA medical clinic. Three soldiers were killed in the subsequent inspection when Hamas detonated 12 explosive devices they had embedded in the clinic’s walls as a booby trap.
The previous day, a stockpile of rockets was found in an UNRWA school in Gaza. The agency acknowledged the find but did not disclose the number of rockets found, the location of the school or which terror group the arms belonged to. Days earlier, an IDF investigation had found that Hamas terrorists fired anti-tank missiles at the army from within a different UNRWA school complex.