U.N. Begins Inquiry Into Attacks and Weapons In Gaza

GAZA (Reuters) -

The United Nations has begun investigating Israeli attacks that hit U.N. facilities during last summer’s Gaza war and how Palestinian terrorists came to store weapons at several U.N. schools, officials said on Wednesday.

A team of U.N. investigators arrived in Gaza on Tuesday to conduct the inquiry, three months after the war ended. They had already met with Israeli representatives in Yerushalayim. The investigation is expected to last three weeks.

“They are visiting the affected sites, they are conducting meetings and interviews with people who were involved,” Robert Turner, the director of operations for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, told reporters. “It is specifically to look at violations of neutrality of U.N. installations.”

During the July-August conflict, Israeli artillery and tank shells hit at least six U.N.-run facilities, killing around 30 Palestinians, according to Palestinian officials. Israel said terrorists were using the facilities as cover to fire rockets into Israel.

At the same time, several U.N. schools, all of them closed during the war, were found to have been used by Hamas terrorists to store rockets, prompting heavy criticism from Israel.

Both Israel and Hamas have said they will cooperate fully with the inquiry, which was established by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

However, Israel has said it will not cooperate with a separate inquiry being carried out by the U.N’s Human Rights Council, which is looking into possible war crimes, saying that it believes the council is biased against Israel.