Foreign Ministry Blasts UNRWA in Qalandiya Row

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israel’s Foreign Ministry sharply rebuffed the United Nations refugee agency UNRWA’s condemnation of IDF action in Qalandiya on Monday.

The ministry called UNRWA’s statement “rushed and superficial,” and told the agency to abandon its “one-sided political advocacy,” The Times of Israel reported.

UNRWA officials were outraged that one of their own employees was one of the three Palestinians killed when IDF soldiers responded to an attack by hundreds of rioters when they entered the refugee camp to arrest a security suspect.

Citing “credible reports,” UNRWA claimed the man was “on his way to work and was not engaged in any violent activity.”

The Foreign Ministry expressed the government’s regret over the fatalities that resulted from the arrest operation, and reiterated that the IDF had launched an investigation.

“Without prejudice to the outcome of the investigation, we were disappointed [but not surprised] at UNRWA’s press statement from yesterday,” the ministry said in a statement. “While omitting to mention any context or reason for the Israeli operation, it was quick to cite ‘credible reports’ in determining that its employee had been shot.”

The Foreign Ministry took the U.N. agency to task for not taking the trouble to obtain comment from Israeli officials, and its haste in publishing a condemnation.

The ministry noted that UNRWA has in the past failed “to display similar zeal and enthusiasm when asked to investigate its own cases of alleged wrongdoing,” notably its summer camps that had previously been referred to in a film titled “Camp Jihad.”

UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness hit back on Tuesday night, saying the Foreign Ministry’s statement “appears to be nonsense.”

“We have six independent eyewitnesses and we stand by our statement absolutely,” Gunness said, adding that they had indeed contacted Israeli officials about the incident.

Gunness called the Foreign Ministry’s portrayal of UNRWA summer camps “a catalog of lies.”