Thursday, January 08, 2009


A debate took place on CNN last night between Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor and UNWRA's Christopher Gunness about the incident in which more than 40 Palestinians were killed following Hamas mortar fire and IDF return shelling in the area of an UNWRA school in which Palestinian civilians were taking refuge.

Palmor told CNN's Finnouala Sweeney that Israel "know(s) for a fact that a Hamas squad was firing mortar shells from the immediate vicinity of the school, from the school grounds."

At this point Gunness objected asking Palmor to clarify the point as to whether Hamas were "in an UNRWA compound or not?"

When Palmor clarified that "the immediate vicinity" meant "right next to the wall," a sneering Gunness appeared to be in raptures as if he had won some major point in a PR battle against the Israeli. Gunness said based on UNRWA's investigation, the agency is "99.9 percent certain" there were no Palestinian militants in or on the grounds of the school that was sheltering civilians when it was shelled by Israeli forces.

Of course, Gunness' was being far to cocky because it is also clear that the IDF did not fire shells into the school grounds and that Palmor's version that Israel was targetting terrorists by returning their fire and not the school is therefore correct. According to Jason Koutsoukis in the Melbourne Age, "three tanks shells exploded just outside the school grounds, causing pandemonium inside." The IDF has suggested that the "pandemonium" is the likely result of secondary explosions.

UNWRA says it wants a "full, transparent and independent inquiry" to determine exactly how this occurred and I agree. The inquiry should however, not be confined to this single incident but should also cover allegations made in the past that UNWRA employs Hamas operatives, that UNWRA facilities and schools are used as cover for terrorists and as places in which they store weapons.

Hopefully, such an enquiry will not take as long as the United Nations itself takes to conduct enquiries. Speaking on the same CNN programme, Palmor noted that a U.N. inquiry into a 2007 incident in which terrorists used a UN compound to fire on Israeli forces has still not been fully investigated.

"How can we be sure that a new investigation will be credibly held by the same people?" Palmor asked.

The same people can't hold any investigation.

I'm 99.9% certain they have something to hide.


P.H. Atherton said...

I wrote a letter to The Age on this incident with wording to the effect that Hamas operatives were firing "from the school".

Curiously, The Age rang me suggesting "since the Israeli ambassador confirmed that firing only took place 'at or near' the UN school, I should change the wording to reflect that".

Funny they should make a fuss about this from a reader's letter. The IDF confirmed that secondary explosions caused the fatalities, demonstrating beyond doubt that explosives were clearly being stored at the school. Then there's the fact that the UN are known to employ terrorist bomb-makers as school principals. Why are the UN and their media shills fussing over the direction of fire, it's almost totally irrelevant. Damn right they have something to hide.

Anonymous said...

If anything the Israelis are being to soft they should finish the job and Put Hamas out of business if Palestinians wish to be martyrs by protecting them and acting as their human shields sobeit , screw them , screw the UN and The Red Cross all apologists for the Arabs !

Ittay said...

A further update on the matter from an Israeli source:

UN: IDF officers admitted there was no gunfire from Gaza school which was shelled
By Barak Ravid and Akiva Eldar, Haaretz Correspondent

The United Nations is claiming Israeli military officers have admitted there was no Palestinian gunfire emanating from inside an UNRWA school in Gaza which was shelled by an IDF tank.

Dozens of Palestinians were killed in the shelling.

In addition, UNRWA Thursday announced it will cease activities in the Strip due to the death of an UNRWA staffer in an IDF shelling during Thursday morning's humanitarian hiatus.

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told Haaretz yesterday that the army had conceded wrongdoing.

"In briefings senior [Israel Defense Forces] officers conducted for foreign diplomats, they admitted the shelling to which IDF forces in Jabalya were responding did not originate from the school," Gunness said. "The IDF admitted in that briefing that the attack on the UN site was unintentional."

He noted that all the footage released by the IDF of militants firing from inside the school was from 2007 and not from the incident itself.

"There are no up-to-date photos," Gunness said. "In 2007, we abandoned the site and only then did the militants take it over."

The UNRWA is now demanding an objective investigation into whether the school shelling constituted a violation of international humanitarian law, and if so, that those responsible stand trial.

The UN reported Thursday that a Palestinian working for the UNRWA was killed by an IDF tank shell while driving an aid truck at the Erez border crossing. The organization claims the UN truck was well-marked and the incident took place during the humanitarian hiatus slated to allow Gaza residents to acquire supplies.

Wilbur Post said...

Let's get this right.

The UN is now relying on an unnamed IDF officer from an unnamed or unknown unit speaking anonymously to unidentified foreign diplomats?

Further, even if you accept Guiness at face value (which I don't) he says that according to his anonymous sources "The IDF admitted in that briefing that the attack on the UN site was unintentional."

Exactly how does that progress the spurious claim you made in an earlier comment that the IDF intentionally targets civilians?

If this is the best that the UN can do then bring on a full impartial investigation into the whole incident including the issue of where Hamas weapons were kept and whether UNWRA is conducted as an aid agency for Palestinians or whether its activities also aid and abet the Hamas propaganda campaign against Israel and the Jews.