United Nations relief workers found military-use rockets hidden inside a school in the Gaza Strip this week. Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas use the rockets as weapons in ongoing attacks on Israel, a condition which has intensified in recent weeks as the Israel Defense Forces launched a ground operation into Gaza.
“This is a flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law,” said the release from the agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). “This incident, which is the first of its kind in Gaza, endangered civilians including staff and put at risk UNRWA’s vital mission to assist and protect Palestine refugees in Gaza.”
Immediately following the discovery, relevant parties were notified and the rockets were removed, thus preserving the safety and security of the school. An investigation has been launched to determine the circumstances surrounding the placement of the rockets.
UNRWA has a strict no-weapons policy on all of its premises. Routine inspections are carried out to maintain that these locations are used solely for humanitarian purposes.
These militant groups have been accused for years by Israel of using schools and civilian buildings to store their weapons. Because the groups are showing a blatant disregard for civilians, Israel feels justified in attacks on these buildings.
It is unclear exactly why the groups are storing their weapons in these buildings. Opponents to the group believe it is to gain supporters after an attack of the locations by Israel.
Israeli troops are currently making their way into Gaza, destroying a network of tunnels created by Hamas to gain entrance into Israel and transport rockets and weapons. At least 22 tunnels have been discovered so far. More than 274 Palestinians have been killed so far in this latest attack. According to two UN agencies, it is estimated that 70-77% of the total Palestinian deaths have been civilians.
Israel officials claim the country is trying its hardest to avoid civilian casualties.
According to Cabinet ministers, the attacks are expected to continue. The attacks carried out suggest otherwise. On July 12, a mosque was bombed, as was a center for the disabled in Gaza. Last week, a civilian beach was bomed, resulting in the death of four children between the ages of 9-11, writes Max Fisher for Vox.
“We need to go in and finish the job. We need to eliminate every terrorist. They have no immunity.” said Uri Ariel, a Cabinet minister from the hardline Jewish Home party.
The General Assembly created UNRWA in 1949 in an effort to provide assistance and protection to the 5 million Palestine refugees located in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This goal is carried out through education, health care, and social services, amongst other things.
The present-day Arab-Israeli conflict dates back more than 65 years. Hamas is the leader of 13 militant groups attempting to derail peace talks between Palestine and Israel.