UN Mulling Separate Inquiry Into Israeli Attacks on Its Gaza Facilities

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Rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip toward the Israeli city of Be'er Sheva, August 23, 2014.Credit: Ilan Assayag

The top official at the United Nations said the agency was considering an inquiry into the attacks on its facilities and staff during Operation Protective Edge, Israel's seven-week conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

Speaking with the Arabic daily Al-Hayat, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that such a probe would aim to "investigate the killing and wounding of U.N. personnel and to hold accountable those responsible, whoever they are."

He told the paper that he had discussed the prospect of the probe with Israeli authorities.

The inquiry would be separate from one being conducted by the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is investigating whether Israel committed war crimes in Gaza. The Israeli government has condemned the formation of that panel, saying that Hamas should be the subject of the inquiry.

Ban also said the new inquiry would look into the storage of weapons at U.N. facilities. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency said more than once during the conflict that it found rockets stored at schools it runs.

"Those responsible are turning schools into potential military targets, and endangering the lives of innocent children," UN staff and anyone seeking shelter, a late-July statement from Ban's spokesman said.

The U.N. said it returned the rockets to local authorities tied to the Palestinian unity government. Israeli officials, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, charged that the move gave the rockets back to Hamas. 

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