Hamas war crime leaves 40 dead at UN school

Wednesday, January 07, 2009 |  Ryan Jones

Israel is considering filing an official complaint with the United Nations after 40 Palestinians were killed on Tuesday when Hamas terrorists used a UN school as cover while attacking Israeli soldiers in Gaza.

Aerial surveillance released by the Israeli army shows Palestinian forces moving into position next to the school and then firing mortar shells at Israeli troops in another part of the city.

Israeli forces then returned fire in self defense, which in turn set off a series of bombs Hamas reportedly set as booby-traps in the school. Some 40 Palestinians who had taken refuge in the facility were killed.

On cue, the Palestinians, the international media and world leaders blamed Israel for the "massacre."

But Israeli officials noted it was Hamas that had actually committed a war crime by engaging in hostilities from the cover of a crowded protected area, knowingly putting the unarmed occupants at risk. [Fourth Geneva Convention, Annex I, Article 2; Article 28 of the same convention gives legal backing to Israel's right to return fire on the protected area.]

A spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) insisted in remarks to the press that terrorists are not allowed inside the agency's schools, and rejected an internal Israeli army probe that determined soldiers had reacted properly to a threat emanating from the school.

The spokesman was reminded that terrorists had fired from the grounds of the same school in the past, and that one of the teachers at an UNRWA school in Gaza had even been revealed to be an Islamic Jihad bomb maker.

Two local Palestinians who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity said they saw four terrorists firing mortar shells from a street adjacent to the school just before the Israelis fired back.

Their testimony suggested that the offending terrorists may not have actually been in the school grounds, but close enough to still be using its occupants as human shields.

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