Israel Probes UN Agency Giving Up Rockets to Police Tied to Hamas

Monday, 21 Jul 2014 12:51 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Israeli officials are investigating claims that a United Nations agency gave 20 rockets to a police force linked with Hamas as the terror group continued to rain down bombs on Israel, The Daily Beast reported.

After the rockets were discovered last week in a U.N.-run school in Gaza, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees denounced the use of an education facility for kids to hide deadly weapons.

Instead of UNRWA handing the rockets over to a neutral party, it gave them to the local police force, which was created by Hamas and is believed to still be under its control, the Beast said.

"We are examining what happened with these rockets," an Israeli official told the website. "If UNRWA did pass it to Hamas it strongly harms its credibility and impartiality."

The agency's spokesman, Chris Gunness, told the Beast that after the rockets were discovered on July 17 in a vacant UNWRA school, the organization contacted the local police bomb squad, which removed them. It is "longstanding U.N. practice" worldwide to refer "incidents involving unexploded ordnance" over to local authorities, Gunness said in a statement, the Beast said.

"Local authorities fall under the government of national consensus in Ramallah. They pledged to pass a message to all parties not to violate UNRWA neutrality," Gunness said.

He said the local authorities who took control of weapons reported to the Palestinian government in Ramallah, not to Hamas.

Hamas, designated a terror organization by the State Department, has bombarded Israel with hundreds of rockets this month, although the majority have been blown up by the country's Iron Dome defense system.

Hamas militants often launch the weapons from inside international facilities like the U.N.-run school because they are less likely to be targeted by Israeli strikes, the Beast said.

Israel responded by launching a ground and air offensive to wipe out Hamas' rocket-launching ability, resulting in the death of hundreds of Palestinians, including several civilians.

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