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UN: No fighters in targeted school

The head of the UN agency in Gaza running the school that was attacked by Israel forces has rejected claims that Hamas fighters were inside the converted shelter.

The Israeli military accused Hamas of using civilians sheltering inside the building as "human shields" and said its troops had returned fire after fighters fired mortars at their positions from within al-Fakhora school in the Jabaliya refugee camp.

But John Ging, the director of operations in Gaza for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa), told reporters that he had visited the school during a three-hour lull in the fighting on Wednesday and "was reassured by the management of the school ... that there were no militants in the school".

'No militant activity'

Ging added that these were his "own staff, senior, experienced, long-serving staff".

"I am very confident now that there was no militant activity inside the school nor militants in the school," he said.

He also reiterated a call for an independent investigation into the incident.

"If anybody has evidence to the contrary, then let's bring it forward," Ging said.

The Israeli strike on Tuesday left 43 Palestinians dead and about 100 injured.

At least 700 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and nearly 3,085 wounded since Israel's military offensive began on December 27.

Seven Israeli soldiers and three civilians have died in the same period.

The Israeli army said on Wednesday it stood by its statement issued the day before in which it claimed that mortars had been fired "from within" the school, but then issued another statement later dropping the word "within" to say "mortar fire from" the school.

'Important distinction'

Chris Gunness, a spokesman for Unrwa, said this was "an extremely important distinction because we have been accused of very serious allegations that our premises were being used to fire rockets".

Michel Abdel Massih QC, a London-based international human rights lawyer, also called for an independent investigation.

"If [Israeli] claims are to be tested properly we need an independent tribunal. The International Criminal Court was set up to deal with these issues, so there is a mechanism for the UN security council to refer the case for investigation," he told Al Jazeera.

When asked if Israel would allow such an investigation, Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, said Israel had already held an "initial investigation" which found that troops had returned fire from the UN building.

Regev accused Hamas, the Palestinian faction that controls the Gaza Strip, of committing a "war crime" by using those sheltering in the UN school as "a human shield".

The incident has provoked strong international condemnation with Ban-Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, branding both the incident and Hamas rocket attacks as "unacceptable".

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Added: Jan-8-2009 
By: A-A-M
In:
Middle East
Tags: UN:, No, fighters, in, targeted, school,
Views: 8505 | Comments: 23 | Votes: 4 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
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  • Israel already said it would bomb women and children and it would all be Hamas's fault.

    Posted Jan-8-2009 By 

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  • If you watch the videos of the war destruction in Gaza, you can easily observe the locals removing bodies (not just the injured) quickly and removing weapons from the dead. Its a concerted effort to disguise the actual facts and convert the scene into a propaganda circus for the media particularly Al Jezeera, who has no credibility at all. I don't believe these posts for a second. It is well documented that Hamas systematically positions its fighters amid civilian populations.

    Posted Jan-8-2009 By 

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  • Look in a court of law israel has the facts FACT!!

    Posted Jan-8-2009 By 

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  • IF this guy did so much as to speak out against hamas he would be brown bread

    Posted Jan-8-2009 By 

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  • THE IDF VID SHOWS HAMAS FIREING FROM COURT YARD FACT!!

    Posted Jan-8-2009 By 

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  • one of the oldest trick in muja manual to gain liberal support. Chechens fired mortars near hospitals in hope of getting Russian artillery to attack them and thus gaining footage of "massacres".
    hamas nows that IDF can pinpoint the location of the mortar with ballistic computer so they use that to get their "massacres"

    Posted Jan-8-2009 By 

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  • Israel needs to be disarmed and their own apartheid wall used to lock them in

    Posted Jan-8-2009 By 

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  • Bullshit.IDF dont target schools for fun.Seen Hamas fire morters from the schoolyard proberly,or hiding weapons.Hamas is full of lies.

    Posted Jan-8-2009 By 

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    • the problem only is, John Ging isnt Hamas, he is the head of UNRWA. So your little trick doesnt realy work here.

      Posted Jan-8-2009 By 

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    • Does the UNRWA tell you how Hamass continually fires at the food convoys every time Israel opens the crossings and tries to send in food?
      The whole UN has been hijacked...........they are defunct now!
      Pack of Arab appeasing liars!

      Posted Jan-8-2009 By 

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    • You obviously did not read the article.
      "was reassured by the management of the school ... that there were no militants in the school."

      So yes....his little trick worked perfectly. Just to put it in lamens terms. He knocked on the door, asked if there were any Hamas members inside and the person that answered the door said "No I promised you" and shut the door.

      Posted Jan-8-2009 By 

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    • uh this isn't Hamas talking, its UN. Thats Allies... having served with them, I would have to say that there is no way that the soldiers (and its soldiers that man the shelters) would not lie to help an Islamic group. These are our allies, not the enemy.

      Posted Jan-8-2009 By 

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  • Dont give a shit who the faggot is. Hamas got him to believe their lies.

    Posted Jan-8-2009 By 

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  • Not inside the instillation, but next to it!
    There is IDF footage to prove it!
    The UN have been hijacked by the Arabs....they lie to cover up terrorists actions.

    Posted Jan-8-2009 By 

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    • So then why would they say the attacks came from within the school, I'm sure they knew very well that if rockets were indeed fired from the courtyards from that exact compound (which I can almost garauntee they knew was a UN compound) that it was Hamas using their tactics of trying to blend in with civilians, well should not Israel, the country who knows best of Hamas, have known this and that it is likely for them to quickly exit the area, so why would they bomb it if they knew the fighters mos More..

      Posted Jan-8-2009 By 

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