Israeli Embassy responds on UNRWA school incident

The following was received from the Israeli Embassy in Washington regarding the deaths of civilian Palestinians at the UNRWA school yesterday. Note the reference to secondary explosions, indicating that the school was used for storage of explosives.

Israel EmbassyJanuary 6, 2009
Dear Friends,

Today, initial investigations into reports of multiple Palestinians killed tragically in Jebaliya indicate that Hamas terrorists fired mortar bombs from a site which is ordinarily used as a school towards Israeli forces.

Israeli forces returned fire and a series of explosions followed, indicating the presence of munitions and explosives in the building. Israeli forces had no knowledge of those present at the site; however, it is clear that it was not operating as a school.

Israel later identified two of the casualties at the site as Imad and Hassan Abu Askhar, who served as heads of the Hamas mortar units in Gaza.

Israel regrets the loss of any innocent civilian lives.

Hamas has once again cynically chosen to use civilian sites from which to operate, thus endangering the safety of innocent civilians. This is not the first time that Hamas has fired mortars and rockets from schools, which deliberately uses civilians as human shields in their acts of terror. This was proven in the recent past with footage from an unmanned plane showing rockets and mortars being fired from the yard of an UNRWA school (click here for video).

For more information and photos please visit the Embassy of Israel’s website.

Ben Sack
Officer for Public Affairs
Embassy of Israel
Phone: (202) 364-5500
Fax: (202)364-5423

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