The UN Might Have Given Hamas Those 20 Rockets Stashed in Their School

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After finding 20 rockets in a United Nations school last week, a U.N. agency did the only sensible thing it could think of: return them to "local authorities."

It all started last week when the missiles were found in a vacant school belonging to U.N.R.W.A. (The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees). Shocked, appalled, and horrified, the group, which runs more than 200 schools in the Gaza Strip, issued this condemnation:

UNRWA strongly condemns the group or groups responsible for placing the weapons in one of its installations. This is a flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law. 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.

Following the discovery, U.N.R.W.A. "informed the relevant parties and successfully took all necessary measures for the removal of the objects in order to preserve the safety and security of the school" and launched an investigation into the matter.

So where did the rockets go?  Well, according to Israel, they went right back to Hamas. As an official told The Times of Israel:

The rockets were passed on to the government authorities in Gaza, which is Hamas. In other words, UNRWA handed to Hamas rockets that could well be shot at Israel.”

While it's well known that Gaza is run by Hamas, that the rockets ended up back in circulation isn't exactly cut and dry. As Josh Rogin reported:

The fate of the rockets is now unknown. While the Gaza police is almost certainly under Hamas’ sway, it’s an open question to what degree any individual police unit cooperates with Hamas’ irregular army. An Israeli official said the Israeli government is working now to try to confirm that Hamas had taken back the rockets and put them back into circulation." 

U.N.R.W.A., which is supposed to operate without bias, has long been the source of frustration for Israel, which believes the agency has it in for the Jewish state. Permitting the storage of rockets in a U.N.R.W.A. school would have proven that bias. But allowing the return of the rockets to Hamas, even unwittingly, is just as bad.

On Monday afternoon, Chris Gunness, the spokesman for U.N.R.W.A., denied that the rockets went back to Hamas.

UNRWA did not give the rockets to Hamas. The rockets were taken away by bomb disposal experts that were answerable to the newly formed government of national consensus, which Hamas has left."

He did not elaborate about what happened to the missiles once they were out of the school. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.