UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A U.N. inquiry has found that at least 44 Palestinians were killed and at least 227 injured by “Israeli actions” while sheltering at U.N. locations during last year’s Gaza war.
Secretary Ban Ki-moon said Monday he deplores the deaths and calls U.N. locations “inviolable.”
The independent board of inquiry also found that weaponry was found at three empty U.N. schools in Gaza and that in two cases Palestinian militants “probably” fired from the schools. Ban called that “unacceptable.”
The 2014 war was the most devastating for Gaza’s 1.8 million people, killing more than 2,200 Palestinians, a majority of them civilians, according to U.N. figures. Seventy-two people were killed on the Israeli side, including 66 soldiers.
In one case, the new inquiry says, a U.N. girls’ school was hit by 88 mortar rounds fired by the Israeli Defense Forces. In another case, another girls’ school was hit by direct fire from the IDF with an anti-tank projectile. A third girls’ school was hit by an IDF missile.
At a fourth girls’ school, the inquiry said, “no prior warning had been given by the government of Israel of the firing of 155 MM high explosive projectiles on, or in the surrounding area of the school.”
The U.N. released its summary of the report but said the full 207-page report is private. The inquiry looked at 10 incidents. Ban’s statement stressed that the board of inquiry “does not make legal findings” and was not tasked with addressing the wider issues of the Gaza war.
Ban ordered the inquiry in November after thousands of buildings were destroyed and at least 223 Gaza schools, either run by the U.N. refugee agency or the Islamic militant group Hamas government, were hit in the fighting. Weapons caches were found in several U.N. schools that weren’t being used at the time.
When Ban visited Gaza in October, he said the destruction was “beyond description” and “much more serious” than what he witnessed in the Palestinian territory in 2009 in the aftermath of a previous Israel-Hamas war.
Ban said Monday he has established a group of senior managers to look into the inquiry’s recommendations.
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