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Israel Says Deaths in UNRWA School Were Not Caused by IDF Fire

July 27, 2014 2:25 pm 37 comments

Logo of the UNRWA. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In a statement released Sunday evening, the Israeli army denied that it was responsible for the deaths of some 15 Palestinians in a United Nations Refugee Works Agency (UNRWA) school in the northern Gaza Strip on July 24.

An “inquiry concluded that during the intense fighting between IDF forces and Hamas militants, the militants operated adjacent to the UNRWA school. The militants fired anti-tank missiles at IDF soldiers, who then responded by firing several mortars in their direction,” the army statement said.

“The inquiry… concluded that a single errant mortar landed in the courtyard of the UNRWA school, when it was completely empty.”

“The IDF stresses it does not operate or target international organizations in the Gaza Strip, and the ongoing coordination conducted via the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) is continuous without change, even during times of combat.”

“In light of the inquiry’s findings, the IDF rejects the claims that were made by various officials immediately following the incident, that people were killed in the school premises as a result of IDF operational activity,” the statement concluded.

“During the afternoon a battle took place between Hamas terrorists and IDF forces in the Beit Hanoun area. Besides that, we have indications that rockets fell in the vicinity, fired by Hamas from within Gaza in the Beit Hanoun vicinity,” an IDF spokesman told The Algemeiner on Thursday.

Later that evening, the IDF tweeted that “Last night, we told Red Cross to evacuate civilians from UNRWA’s shelter in Beit Hanoun btw 10 am & 2 pm. UNRWA & Red Cross got the message.”

“Hamas prevented civilians from evacuating the area during the window that we gave them,” they army said in a second tweetadding that “Today Hamas continued firing from Beit Hanoun. The IDF responded by targeting the source of the fire.”

“Also today, several rockets launched from Gaza toward Israel fell short and hit Beit Hanoun,” the IDF contended in a separate tweet at the time.

UNRWA also acknowledged on Thursday that Hamas fired into the Beit Hanoun area, where the agency’s school was hit, according to Israel’s Channel 2 News.

Last week the Israel Defense Forces said it had counted at least 100 rockets fired by Hamas as striking within Gaza.

“Have you heard? #Hamas are launching rockets at…..#Gaza over 100 times in 9 days,” IDF Spokesman, Lt.-Col. Peter Lerner, said at the time.

Meanwhile, Palestinian and foreign reports at the site described a “scene from a horror movie,” with wounded children being brought for medical treatment while others were seen huddling in building stairwells to avoid further shelling.

Richard Engel of NBC News tweeted: The “Unrwa chief in gaza tells @NBCNews initial assumption is school was hit by #israeli fire.”

ABC News’ Jon Willams said the IDF says it “asked UNRWA to evacuate compound & offered humanitatian ‘window’. UN says IDF refused UNRWA request for ceasfire.”

IDF map showing 100 Hamas rockets striking within Gaza. Photo: IDF / Twitter.

IDF map showing 100 Hamas rockets striking within Gaza. Photo: IDF / Twitter.

Williams said United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was “appalled by news of attack on @UNRWA school in #Gaza. Many killed – including women & children, as well as UN staff.”

BBC video Journalist Kelvin Brown noted that “Some of the survivors of the blast at the school in #BeitHanoun have taken shelter in the local hospital.”

An analysis by blogger Elder of Ziyon showed that of the 192 rockets fired last Tuesday by Hamas and counted by the Gaza NGO Safety Office, the IDFsaid 122 rockets struck Israel and 26 were intercepted by the Iron Dome, leaving 44 Hamas rockets striking within Gaza.

The blogger said, “Of course, 44 rockets can do a lot of damage and kill a lot of people. Reporters on the scene in Gaza have yet to talk about this or even admit the possibility that some of the casualties they are highlighting may have been killed quite directly by Hamas or other terror groups.”


  • Israel has the right to defend itself. it’s the only democracy in the middle east, and arabs live as free there.
    Hamas is a terror organization that wants to eliminate Israel.

    • I suggest you read a bit more to get a unbiased perspective. Numbers speaks for themselves.

      The fire capacity of Israel far outweigh the one for Palestine. The number of civilian causalities is dreadful (very few were from Hamas and a 1/3 of the deaths were children). The death rate is like 1 Israeli soldier for 170 deaths 55 of those kids.

      Tell me how is terrorizing who now?

      • Many of the deaths in Gaza were caused by Hamas rockets that misfired.They just fired those things haphazardly into the air killing their own. Also, bodies ere moved from site to site making it appear that more children were killed than were.

  • I am Indonesian.
    please don’t believe in muslimm people
    If you see here our country, many christian can not build new church, but many mosques build in every areas.
    They brainwash our children that christian is kafirr (evil), and become muallaf (convert to islamm) . How dare moeslim people against our Yahweh. How I love Israel to help us too from the beast of Islamm.

  • Larry A Singleton

    United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) And the European Union (EU)

    UNRWA Betrays Its Mission by Nitza Nachmias (Middle East Quarterly)

    Some UNRWA Refugees Have Resettled by Emanuel Marx (MEQ)

    Why a Special Issue on UNRWA? by Steven J. Rosen (MEF)

    UNRWA’s Anti-Israel Bias by Arlene Kushner (MEF)

    Teaching “The Right of Return” in UNRWA Schools by Dr. Arnon Groiss (pdf)

    The Center for Near East Policy Research LTD. (Isreael Behind the News)

    UNRWA Resists Resettlement by Alexander H. Joffe (MEF)

    Washington’s Failure to Rein in UNRWA by Asaf Romirowsky (MEF)

    Lessening UNRWA’s Damage by Steven J. Rosen and Daniel Pipes (Daniel Pipes)

    Anne Bayefsky-Islam Hijacking the UN Human Rights Council (You Tube)
    Full Lecture

    Anne Bayefsky spoke against top UN Official Richard Falk’s report on supposed Israeli human rights abuses at the 23rd Regular Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. (Brilliant!) (Breitbart)

    Anne Bayefsky Stands up Against Hours of UN Israel-Bashing (Richard Falk) (Breitbart)

    The Cairo Speech by Anne Bayefsky (National Review)

    Camp Jihad UN/US Palestine Probaganda and brainwashing (You Tube)

    Michael Coren & David Harris – Palestinian terrorist training camps for kids (You Tube)

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    EU Brags About Pouring $ Billions into Failed Terrorist Entity by: Lori Lowenthal Marcus (Jewish Press)

    The Changing Face of European Politics? by Gary J. Robinson (Gatestone Institute)

    Europe: Islamic Fundamentalism is Widespread by Soeren Kern (Gatestone Institute)

    What Are Kerry and Europe Really About? by Daoud Assaf (Gatestone Institute)

    Is the EU Deploying a Double Standard toward Israel?
    Is the European Union consistent in restricting economic activity in Israel’s disputed territories? How does the EU operate in occupied territories such as Morocco, N. Cyprus and Kashmir? Double standard? Watch the video and judge for yourself. (The Jerusalem Center/You Tube video)

    EU, U.S., Funding Incentives to Kill Jews by Guy Millière (Gatestone Institute)

    The Disquieting Treatment of Christians by the Palestinians by Michael Curtis (Gatestone Institute)

    Human Rights Watch Protects the Arab Tyrants by Gerald M. Steinberg (MEQ)

    Selling Out to Soros by Gerald Steinberg (NGO Monitor)

  • So, according to the IDF, the IDF is blameless. And according to Hamas, Hamas is blameless. So nobody is killing these people. Thank you. It’s all so much clearer now.

    May I ask a question and receive an honest, straightforward answer? Is it possible to oppose an Israeli government’s policy and not be an anti-Semite? Or does anti-Semitism attach only when certain governments or certain policies are criticized?

    • The answer to your question lies in what you select to hear and what you select to ignore. Is it anti-Semitic to criticize the Jewish State for attempting to eliminate an organization whose charter calls for the Jewish State’s destruction, who has been sending thousands of rockets into Israel’s civilian centers for the purpose of murdering the Jewish State’s citizens, whose weapons Hamas hides in areas where its men, women and children congregate –Mosques, hospitals and schools– because they know that the Jewish State will try to avoid such places, and who do not allow its citizens to leave areas where the Jewish State has given them notice that it would destroy those ordinance sites? Are you merely biased, or anti-Semitic when you blame the Jewish State that is trying to eliminate the other side from trying to murder its citizens? Is your dislike of Jews so strong that you cannot see what your eyes show you?

      • I have no dislike to one of the other however, that same state (include some prominent ministers) have also stated they rather not have a Palestinian state. So is the killing of 1000s of innocents an operation of ethnic cleansing for the sake of few more illegal settlements? One could see it that way too….

  • tamas Foldes

    I strongly object.the unfair and malicious reports from Mr.Karl Penhaul Its very interesting to watch his face and comments from Gaza…This is not a professional news=reporter.It is a shame

  • Our schools are missing an opportunity to teach critical thinking, but teachers are rightly afraid, no matter how competent, of risking parental and administrative displeasure. From Columbus to this morning, the students are suspicious of the pap they’e being fed, and as Henry Ford observed, “History is bunk!”That’s one of the few credible observations he is alleged to have made.


    I am so disgusted with so many Christians who have no idea of the truth.
    The Catholic archbishop of South Africa has now called Gaza an open air prison and the population is trapped as a result of the Israeli embargo of land and sea , an almost similar embargo by the new Egyptian regime.

    He writes that “they have little access to food and medical supplies.”
    BUT he does not write about the tons of food, medical supplies, electricity, (which they do not pay for) supplied by Israel every week for years now.
    He then refers to the illegal settlements , the wall and the checkpoints.

    This idiot has obviously never bothered to learn the truth, but accepts the lies written by the Muslims.
    I would say he is the MOST STUPID, IDIOT who calls himself Archbishop.

    Why has he (and others) never condemned the rockets being fired at Israel and that Israel stayed calm and did not retaliate until it got too far. Israel warned Hamas to stop.
    He has not commented on the tunnels. Nor on the agenda of Hamas “to destroy Israel and kill every Jew.”

    This MOST idiot archbishop has not commented on the human shields. Nor on the tunnels.
    Nor on what IDF officers found in one of the tunnels. He obviously has no idea that they planned to send 200 terrorists dressed in IDF uniforms to come out of each branch (and there are many) of each tunnel and to slaughter every Jewish man, woman and child.
    Why does he not refer to Syria, or other Islamic countries which have been massacring Christians and destroying churches.
    Is he being paid by the Arabs?

    • please dont hear to Hamas lies Egypt open Rafah check point 24 hours a day Egypt provided Gaza strip with almost 500 ts of food supply which was for the Poor Egyptian and yesterday more than 15 trucks also proceeded to Gaza WITH SUPPLIES but Egypt has the right to take care of her boarded from the extremists have u any idea about those extremists from Muslim brothers in Gaza and how many Egyptian solders have been killed by those extremists

      • Yes, some of us do recognize that Egypt is assisting by fighting against Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood.

        A year of Morsi’s rule was so terrible that 10 million Egyptians turned out into the streets to beg the army to depose him. Some were murdered by the MB before the army could put them down. Unfortunately, the idiots who think Hamas is an innocent, fairly elected government don’t get it about Islamists.

        The trouble is all the help Hamas/MB are getting from Qatar and Turkey.

      • Abo, we know about Egyptian soldiers that have been killed by Hamas and about difficulties Egypt has with them. I know about at least 30 Egyptian soldiers, but the real number may be much higher. Keep informing the world about this. It may also help those retard leftists inside Israel who still believe Hamas makes war only against Israel for her alleged crimes, and don’t understand that they make war against moderate muslims be they in Egypt or in Gaza.

    • Bruce Morrow

      The answer simply put is that the Roman catholic Church is and has been anti-Semitic. It was the Roman Church that persecuted the Jews, NOT Bible-believing Christians. Roman Catholicism is NOT Christianity but the false religion of Romanism.

    • true story.

  • Stuart Hersh

    Hama’s warlord Haniyyeh told the world:”Palestinians love death as much as Israelis love life.” Listen to him and learn.

    The Hamas slogan for rocket launchers: I shot an arrow into the air, it fell to earth I know not where.”

  • Karl Penhaul, CNN, and Hamas are distorting the truth so much only a fool would be fooled. I fully support Israel and their efforts to eradicate these terrorists that are terrorizing and killing innocent civilians. The media continues to portray Israel as the bandits when it is just the opposite. Intelligent viewers can see through this smokescreen for what it is. Don’t buy into this garbage unless you’re a glutton for deception. I will Always Stand By You Israel. You Can count on that!

  • Israel is correct to clarify the record and state clearly the facts. The establishment media in much of Europe and the U.S. are biased against Israel. That will not change anytime soon. It is important though that Israel set the record straight as it continues to do. Hamas missiles not only have killed many Palestinian civilians including children, but it also serves the purpose of Hamas to have as many deaths of Palestinians, especially children, and international agency staff including U.N. staff so they can spread lies about Israeli “crimes.” Hamas and its allies are the cause of this war and they must be defeated. Israel has done all it can to avoid civilian casualties more than any nation in history. Not everyone in the world hates Israel and Jews, we have friends and allies around the world and it is important to get the truth out, fight anti-Semitism and build as much support for Israel in the democratic countries of which Israel is an important member. Israel is fighting for its future and it is also in the forefront of the struggle against Islamist terrorism. The Islamists are experts at murdering civilians including Muslims. Hamas and other Islamists are leading the war against freedom and democracy around the world. They must and will be defeated. The war will continue until the democratic forces win the struggle against Hamas, and all Islamist terror organizations. I t will be a long struggle.

    • Bruce Morrow

      I support Israel’s right to defend itself from her enemies that continually seek to destroy her. No other nation on earth would tolerate rockets to be fired into their country. Those that cry about Israel’s actions are some of the biggest hypocrites.

  • unfortunately, the slander has taken on a life of its own. the “truth,” the facts, do not matter to most of the reporters; they have shrouded themselves in an impenetrable bias, they are lazy, and they don’t want to be ostracised by their colleagues and friends…and, that’s exactly what would happen if they explained that hamas is motivated by a genocidal doctrine, that it attacks civilians, that it uses human shields, that it celebrates death, that it is, at best, indifferent to civilian casualties (and, at worst, views them as unwitting martyrs) valuable in its PR campaign, that it steals resources meant for development to enrich its leadership and to launch attacks, that it shelters itself but not its people, that, if it cared about its people, all it had to do was forswear attacks on Israel, and that it habitually lies. so, these soi-disant “brave, crusading reporters,” who purportedly hold Woodward and Bernstein as their models, eschew journalistic WORK and, instead, opt to follow the pack. they are disgusting. equally loathsome are the sanctimonious liars and partisans who are paid by unrwa or the ngos but who actually work for hamas and are absolutely untroubled by its genocidal goals; they, also, have buried themselves in an unassailable bigotry and disdain for the facts. if one believes, as they do, that “it’s those ‘horrible Jews,’ who are gratuitously attacking the ‘courageous and virtuous palestinians,'” one doesn’t need to know or honor the facts.

  • International law has a different opinion. A belligerent may warn the civilian population by any reasonable means (SMS ,essafes, leaflets, loudspeaker announcements, etc.) to vacate a location about to be bombed. Civilians choosing to remain as voluntary human shields move from the status of “innocent bystanders” to “aiding and abetting”, making them legitimate targets.

    On the other hand, if Hamas forcibly uses them as human shields, the legal onus for the deaths of any unwilling human shield is on Hamas, not the IDF.


  • Bernard Ross

    Jews need to internalize the fact that according to the internationals and the MSM Israel cannot do anything right. In this context jews need to understand that this is not a war where reason changes opinions. This is a war of jew haters and appeasers who seek to feed the jews to the crocodile of jew hatred. No amount of reason will change world views and therefor world views must bie ignored and rejected when involving strategies of war.

    • Unfortunately….you are correct

    • It’s mot just that “Unfortunately…. you are correct”, but that if this sort of hatred isn’t stemmed it will eventually spread beyond hatred of Jews or gays or Gypsy’s, but to any identifiable group the sharia hierarchy decides to squeeze or kill for what ever unsubstantiated reason, and unsustainable as man made political truth they fixate on in their blood lust, as being appropriate.
      After all, these ‘Islamists’ want sharia as the outcome of their struggle. No secular utopia for them! Males dominating women. Islam dominating all.
      So much simpler would be the task of helping the Palestinians be happy if women truly become equals. And groups like Hamas need to learn that change can bring significant benefits like longer life spans, (greater survival rates to much older ages), and the wealth to go with it.
      Again, “Unfortunately…. you are correct”, about ‘no amount…changing opinions’ since it seems that Palestinians are incapable of breaking the cycle of self-abuse by routing the criminal terrorists that keep putting them in this position, as evidenced by the current action brought on by the rocket attacks. A situation no doubt sustained by U.N ignorance, indecisiveness. or worse, complicity that leads to the conclusion that ‘Never Again’ must be matched by a determination and decisiveness of resolve that also forecasts future troubles and allows appropriate actions.

    • Bruce Morrow

      I fully agree with you Bernard Ross!

  • Predictably, although Israel is winning the battles, she is suffering unfair condemnation—not only in Europe, but here in America, especially with the likes of the NY Times and CNN. It was quite refreshing for me to hear Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, in an interview with Erin Burnett, call out CNN’s coverage of the conflict in Gaza as irresponsible and one-sided, citing its coverage of a UN run school wherein 16 children were killed. As Dermer pointed out, CNN failed to mention that there were missiles stored in UN schools and that Israel warned them to vacate! Dermer castigated CNN’s one-sided reporting as a “disservice to its viewers.”

    It’s unbelievable to note that when the UN discovered missiles in their schools—what did they do with them?—they handed them over to Hamas! Hamas, who targets school children with their missiles and terrorist attacks! We don’t know exactly what happened at that school, but it is entirely possible that the missile that hit it was fired by Hamas, landing short of its target as other rockets had.

    It seems that no matter the provocation, Israel is condemned. Hamas launches over 2,000 missiles and Obama and the EU demand restraint! Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman points out that there was not a single condemnation of the killing of 3,000 Palestinians in the Yarmuk refugee camp in Syria. And very little was said about the Christians of Mosul in northern Iraq that were given 24 hours by ISIS to convert, leave, or die. A church dating back 1800 years, before the advent of Islam, was then burned to the ground. The Western media were too busy decrying the “massacre” in Gaza.

    Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

    HILLARY = OBAMA 3, and 4

    Where is our President Obama as our foreign policy has turned into a complete disaster.

    Video of Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg SAYS: President Obama, You Have Some Nerve:.

    Video is on

    Another holocaust is possible. If it happened once it can happen again. Thank G-d we have Israel. We need to do everything possible to keep Israel militarily strong. Jews get out of Europe. There can be no compromise regarding Israel nor can we depend on the good will of others. This unfortunately is a lesson that many Jews have never learned. Never forget, never forgive never again. Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

    • As I wrote earlier, perhaps the U.N. is complicit.
      If that could be proved before the World Court in the Hague some of their policies could be forced to change by rule of law.
      Maybe a fantasy, maybe not.
      It would take diligent evidence gathering and corroboration, but as evidenced by videos and reports in the press it is more than accomplish-able.
      Weather anyone would believe or not is another thing, but the attempt should be made, simply because of the humanitarian issues raised by Hamas’s use of human shields, hospitals as command posts, and the storage of rockets in schools and U.N. compounds.
      It would be hard work, but it seems necessary.

    • Bruce Morrow

      I will have to agree with Mr.Rosenberg that Jews will suffer another “holocaust” if they remain in the Gentile nations. Israel is the one nation for the Jewish people. Israel has always been the Jewish homeland from Abraham to the present time.

  • Karl Penhaul is a lying clown and Hamas spokesman. Every single correspondence from him is unethical garbage and you can see the fear in his eyes while he lies through his teeth about everything from attitudes to operations directly aiding Hamas in violation of humanitarian and journalistic values. Shame on CNN for letting this poor idiot bring more suffering to Gaza and misinform their viewers with his lies.

    • Penhault does everything but wave a Hamas flag.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if he did off camera. I just saw his follow up to his initial presumptive report. They still are implying that the one errant shell fired after the courtyard was empty was responsible for the deaths. He implied that Israel showed only “low resolution footage” and cut the aftermath off immediately. Further implying that ambulances would shortly be seen rushing to the scene.

      All this even AFTER this report was released. News? Not a chance. “This is CNN” the Communist News Network in all it’s glory.

      The other day after Ambassador Dermer let loose on the chief of Mommy News, Erin Burnett, CNN came out with a weak defense, ginned up by showing the one or two times they mentioned the evils of Hamas comparing it to one or two times of the evils of Israel. They clearly expect intelligent people to believe they are therefore balanced. Since then, it’s again been about 100 to 1 on their biased reporting.

      Once upon a time they were balanced. Those days seem to be long gone. Another victim of the progressive left? Perhaps worse?

      • It is due to the anti-Israel and pro-left wing brigade positioning themselves into education, the media and politics. The first casualty is truth.

    • I will not even listen to CNN again … junk media, shamelessly playing to the money

      • our politics are very simple, no need to explain:

        1. If a problem occurs and is not agreeable
        to the US then it PUTIN’s fault, no questions asked.

        2. If a problem occurs and it is against Europe
        or the arabs it Israel’s fault.

    • I don’t know who Karl Penhaul is but he is one of a long line of correspondents who deliberately distort the facts. The BBC have even hauled back Orla Guerin to accuse Israel of targeting “the most heavily populated area in the world” (not true, there are plenty of places with the same or greater population density, Hong Kong for instance. Lise Doucet whom the BBC introduce as their “leading international correspondent” is full of “human interest” stories of dying babies and people being rescued from bombed houses. Colonel Richard Kemp points out that the way that civilians are left to die by Hamas, while Israel Haniyeh lives it up in Qatar and his cronies are cowering in the tunnels bult with Israeli cement and electricity, to which civilians are not allowed access, are exactly the tactics used by the Taliban in Afghanistan. He says that no serving or recent British soldier will be fooled by Hamas tactics. It just appears that western journalists are particularly gullible or simply want to be fooled.

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