UN envoys in Gaza protest Israeli attack that injured UN staff, damaged offices

11 February 2002

Senior United Nations officials have condemned an Israeli raid in Gaza against Palestinian Authority facilities, which were in close proximity to UN offices that also suffered damage during the attack.

Responding to Sunday’s shelling, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Terje Roed-Larsen, issued a statement expressing “outrage” that Israel had deployed heavy tonnage bombs so near to civilians and UN facilities.

Noting that the blasts had blown out all first-floor UN office windows – including his own – the envoy expressed relief that there were no fatalities. A “significant number” of UN staff on the premises avoided injury largely because the windows are coated in a shatter-resistant film, he said.

Mr. Roed-Larsen also emphasized that “Israel’s security needs will not be met by hitting civilian targets or by destroying the Palestinians’ ability to police and maintain order.”

The incident marked the third time that UNSCO offices have sustained damages as a result of shelling.

Damage was also sustained at the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the World Bank, according to a statement released today by Peter Hansen, the Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), who protested the bombing in “the strongest possible terms.”

Expressing dismay at the use of heavy weaponry in close proximity to UN offices, Mr. Hansen reminded the Government of Israel of its responsibility under international law to ensure the safety and security of UN staff working in the area. He also sought assurances that the Government would take “all necessary steps” to prevent the recurrence of attacks by the Israeli Defence Forces that might in any way endanger UN staff or premises in the occupied Palestinian territory.

A UN spokesman reported that despite the damage, UN staff members had returned to work today.

 

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