Ban Ki-moon condemns rocket attack from Gaza school run by UN agency

8 November 2007 –

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has deplored a rocket attack against Israel that was launched from a school in the Gaza Strip run by the United Nations agency tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees.

UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters that Mr. Ban had asked the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to conduct a full investigation of last week’s incident.

Inquiries made so far indicate that the school had been evacuated at the time of the rocket attack to ensure the safety of both the staff and the pupils during an Israeli military incursion. Palestinian militants entered the school while it was empty and then fired rockets from the compound.

“The Secretary-General condemns this abuse of UN facilities, which is a serious violation of the UN’s privileges and immunities,” Ms. Okabe said. “He calls on all involved in this conflict to avoid actions that endanger the lives of civilians, especially children, and that put at risk UNRWA’s ability to carry out its humanitarian mission.”

Yesterday UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd said the agency’s installations had also been violated in the past and it had complained many times to both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict about this.

“I think the powers in Gaza right now will try to do something,” Ms. AbuZayd said. “They are willing to try to protect the UNRWA installations. They know they need to protect our presence in Gaza.”

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