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Monday, February 16, 2009

UNRWA stands by its story

In the wake of the IDF report that only 12 were killed outside the Jabalya UNRWA school in Gaza, I asked UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness:
As I am sure you have seen by now, the IDF is claiming that there were 12 killed by shells outside the Jabalya UNRWA school on January 6, not the 30-40 that have been claimed by others. (See http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1233304788684&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull.) The IDF is also saying that only three of the victims were civilians.

I seem to recall the UN or UNRWA saying that some 30 were killed immediately and another 10-15 died overnight from their injuries.

Does UNRWA have a list of the dead from that incident, along with their ages? If not, where did UNRWA get their numbers from - was it from local doctors, or the media, or some other source? (The PCHR mentioned 27 killed initially but did not list the names, as they usually do.)

In other words, can UNRWA show that the IDF is wrong in its account of the incident, and if so, how?
He replied, in his usual terse manner:
Let it all come out in an independent investigation. C
I persisted:
John Ging said at the time that there were 30 dead and 55 injured.
http://uk.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUKN06430746

Does UNRWA still stand behind that statement or are you saying now that it is unclear? And are you saying that UNRWA does not have a list of victims from the incident? Where exactly did Ging get his numbers from?
And Chris replied:
We stand by the figures and our call for an impartial investigation to see if there have been violations of int humanitarian law. C
Meanwhile, I found John Ging's email address and asked him similar questions; we'll see if he replies.