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Canada's FM Demands Probe into Rockets at UNRWA Schools

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird says he is "appalled" to hear of rockets being found in UN run schools in Gaza.
By Elad Benari and AFP
First Publish: 7/23/2014, 2:43 AM

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird
Reuters

Canada's Foreign Minister on Tuesday called for a United Nations (UN) investigation of the discoveries of weapons caches at schools it operates in Gaza.

"I was appalled to hear reports, one as recent as today, of stockpiles of rockets in a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza," Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said, according to the AFP news agency.

"Even more alarming were reports that in the first case, officials with the United Nations returned these weapons to Hamas (which Canada lists as a terrorist organization), once Israeli officials discovered their location," he said.

Baird did not specify the source of these allegations.

"Canada unequivocally calls on the United Nations to launch an immediate independent investigation to determine the facts surrounding these reports. Canada also calls on the United Nations to ensure that in the second case, no rockets are returned to Hamas,” said the Canadian Foreign Minister.

"Anything less than an independent investigation would be absolutely unacceptable," he declared.

UN officials had earlier announced the discovery of weapons in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip, the second time in a week.

The UN agency for Palestinian Arab refugees UNRWA last Thursday said it had launched an investigation after finding 20 rockets hidden in another of its vacant schools in the Gaza Strip.

It condemned the incident -- the first of its kind -- as a "flagrant violation" of international law, and said the rockets had been removed and the "relative parties" informed.

However, it was later reported that rather than destroying the rockets, UNRWA workers called Hamas to come remove them.

While UNRWA confirmed the existence of rockets in one of its schools last week, the organization refused an Israeli request to provide a picture of the weapons. A picture could have helped Israel show that Hamas uses civilian institutions to store weapons and launch attacks.

Hamas has openly used human shields in its latest conflict with Israel. The terrorist group has also issued a statement urging Gaza residents to ignore IDF warnings to evacuate their homes.