When 20 rockets were discovered last week in a U.N.-funded school in Gaza, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees was quick to condemn the storage of weapons of war in a building meant to educate children.
But rather than turn them over to a third party, or arrange for their disposal, the agency, known as UNRWA, handed them over to the local police force, which was established by Hamas, and is believed to be under the militant group’s control. In other words, the supposedly neutral agency may have given weapons to one of the combatants in a conflict that has claimed more than 360 lives in the past two weeks.
“We are examining what happened with these rockets. If UNRWA did pass it to Hamas it strongly harms [UNRWA’s] credibility and impartiality,” an Israeli official told The Daily Beast.
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told The Daily Beast on Sunday that after finding the rockets on July 17 in a vacant UNRWA school in Gaza, the organization contacted the local police bomb squad, which came and took the rockets away. Gunness said he didn’t see an issue with the handover, because the local authorities who took control of the rockets reported to the Palestinian government in Ramallah, not to Hamas, which heads the government and runs the police force in Gaza.