Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90
View of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) building in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, July 26, 2018.

(JNS) The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) announced in an April 22 statement that a hand grenade and military vest had been discovered at one of its schools in the Gaza Strip.

The military items were found during a routine inspection at an empty school on April 21, and Israeli and Gaza officials had been informed, the statement said.

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“UNRWA strongly and unequivocally condemns the individual or group responsible for this flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law and calls on the de facto authorities in the Gaza Strip to ensure that this inviolability is respected and upheld,” the statement added.

“At all times, and especially during exceptional circumstances like this period, the sanctity and integrity of UN installations must be respected,” the statement concluded. “The use of schools for military purposes is strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law.”

In 2015, the United Nations released a report stating that the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist groups stored rockets in several UNRWA schools in Gaza during Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014; one of those schools was open for children to use the playground. Hamas and Islamic Jihad also launched rockets toward Israel from Gaza schools.

UNRWA was established in 1948 after Israel won the War of Independence to provide aid to Palestinian refugees. The Trump administration ceased U.S. funding to the agency, arguing that UNRWA needs to be reformed.

This article was first published by the Jewish Journal.

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