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UN Chief 'Outraged' Over Rockets Stored in UNRWA Schools

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expresses "outrage and regret" over the placing of rocket in UN-run schools.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/24/2014, 6:13 AM

Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon
Flash 90

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm on Wednesday that 20 rockets found hidden in a United Nations school in Gaza had gone missing and directed the world body to deploy experts to deal with the situation, Reuters reports.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, found the rockets in one of its vacant schools a week ago. It found a second batch in a vacant school on Tuesday, but said in a statement that because staff were withdrawn quickly, they were "unable to confirm the precise number."

In both cases UNRWA said it "informed the relevant parties," but did not identify who had been contacted.

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.

Ban "expresses his outrage and regret at the placing of weapons in a UN-administered school," a United Nations statement quoted by Reuters said.

"By doing so, those responsible are turning schools into potential military targets, and endangering the lives of innocent children, UN employees working in such facilities and anyone using the UN schools as shelter," the statement added.

Ban has asked the UN Department of Safety and Security and the UN Mine Action Service to develop and implement a plan for the safe and secure handling of any weapons discovered on UN premises.

Mine Action Service personnel will also be immediately deployed to deal with the situation, the statement said.