Accord in principle reached with Israel on payment for UN property damage in Gaza

7 January 2010

Israel and the United Nations have reached agreement in principle on the terms of an arrangement under which reimbursement would be made for losses sustained by the Organization during last year’s Israeli offensive against Hamas in Gaza.

During the three-week operation, which Israel says it launched in response to rocket attacks against it, Israeli shells struck the UN’s main centre in Gaza City, setting ablaze a warehouse with hundreds of tons of food and medicine, and at least three UN schools run for Palestinian refugee children were attacked, among other losses.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky declined today to discuss details of the agreement since it had not yet been finalized. These will be disclosed when the accord has been concluded and the payment made, he said, adding that there were certain inaccuracies in current press reports on this matter.

The damage to UN property was among issues discussed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a recent telephone conversation with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak.

The UN is now waiting for a green light from the Israeli Government, Mr. Nesirky said, adding that the UN anticipates receiving that green light imminently, after which the agreement will be formalized and a payment will be made.

 

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Senior official gives eyewitness account of Israeli shelling of UN Gaza compound

At about 10 a.m. local, the first Israeli shell, from a tank or artillery, crashed into the United Nations main centre in Gaza City today, an hour after 700 Palestinians fleeing intense fighting crowded into the compound and UN officials informed Israeli liaison officers of the dangers of shelling in the area and that shrapnel was coming into the buildings.