Friday, 16 January 2009

Israeli Army Shells UN HQ

Article can be found here.

What shocks me most about this article by Ibrahim Barzak and Christopher Torchia of the Associated Press is that there was apparently no explanation from the Israeli army as to why they shelled the United Nations compound. The compound housed food supplies, and I can only assume that the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) shelled it because it was giving aid to Palestinians. This is a direct and utter insult to the authority of the United Nations. In fact, as was stated in the article, John Ging, head of Gaza operations for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, said that the IDF's claim that "militants fired on IDF.. and IDF were only returning to the source of fire" as "total nonsense" and "typical misinformation". The IDF is "currently investigating" this incident. That, in my book, reeks of "guilty".

This is not the first time the IDF has struck directly on UN-controlled compounds. Not too long ago, a UN-ran school was hit by bombardment, killing over 40 civilians. IDF may face a war crimes tribunal for this incident.

Ging mentioned that his UN staff told the IDF leaders that there were no militants in the compound. Apparently, this was not good enough for Israel, as they shelled a supposedly neutral territory. No evidence was given as to whether or not there were Hamas militants in the headquarters.

The shelling of the UN headquarters killed an important Hamas leader, Said Siam, and Siam's brother and his brother's family were also killed in the attack. There was no evidence to suggest that they were inside the compound. I see this as Israel willing to kill as many Palestinians as possible for one Hamas militant member, never mind that they could be endangering civilians in the process.

What bothers me the most about this particular attack was that the UN, under no coercion, gave the coordinates of every UN-controlled compound to the IDF, in an effort to prevent the deadly shelling of a school which killed over 40 civilians. The IDF, therefore, had complete knowledge of the nature of their target, yet chose an aggressive - and as it turned out, very damaging to the UN relief efforts - mode of action. This, in my opinion, is unforgivable.

The United States and Egypt are forging a possible cease-fire, but neither Israel nor Hamas are making concessions at the moment.


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