Israeli TV admits: No rockets were ever fired from UNRWA schools in Gaza during “Cast Lead”

On 17 January 2009, Israeli forces bombed a school run by the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip.

Iyad El-Baba UNRWA

Another staple of Israeli propangada has been busted, as Israeli television has – years late – admitted that claims rockets were fired from UNRWA schools in Gaza were false.

UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, issued a statement yesterday, in eastern occupied Jerusalem, that says in part:

Israel’s highest-rating news programme, Channel Two News, has published a statement correcting false claims that rockets were fired from schools operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) during the Gaza war in 2008-2009. The statement makes clear that Israeli officials themselves acknowledged that such claims were false and that there was no evidence to support them.

“We heard this misinformation during the war when there was shelling on and around the Agency’s schools and our main warehouse in Gaza”, said UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness, “but Israeli officials made it clear to the UN during the war itself that they knew claims about militants in UNRWA installations were completely false. Constant, unchecked repetition of this misinformation has been very damaging to the Agency and has produced some very poor and biased journalism, which I will continue to confront. This is the third time in just a few months that a major news organisation has issued a public retraction because of false information about UNRWA.”

The UNRWA statement also notes that during its offensive, Israel destroyed other UN facilities, including warehouses containing millions of dollars worth of desperately needed relief supplies.

Systematic targeting of Gaza’s schools?

In part, the constant propaganda refrain must have been an attempt to justify what can only have been systematic targeting of Palestinian schools by Israel.

As a 2009 report (PDF) by Oxfam, Amnesty International and 14 other European human rights and aid agencies – one year after “Operation Cast Lead” – stated:

During the military offensive, 18 schools were destroyed, (including eight government schools, two private schools and eight kindergartens) and at least 280 were damaged. Six of the destroyed government schools were in North Gaza alone, affecting almost 9,000 students who had to relocate to other schools.

On 17 January 2009, Israeli forces bombed a school run by the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip.

Iyad El-Baba UNRWA

The report, Failing Gaza: No building, No recovery, No more excuses, added:

  • There are 640 schools in Gaza - 221 UNRWA schools, 383 government schools and 36 private schools - serving more than 440,000 students.

  • 88% of UNRWA schools and 82% of government schools operate on a double shift. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some schools are currently operating three shifts per day.

  • 164 students and 12 teachers from government schools were killed during the military offensive. A further 454 students and five teachers were injured. 86 children and three teachers from UNRWA schools were killed and a further 402 students and 14 teachers were injured.

What this means is that with 18 schools destroyed and 280 damaged – 46 percent – almost half – of all schools in Gaza were hit by the Israeli army.

If this was not deliberate, then the Israeli army, which claims to be “the most moral army in the world,” is also one of the most poorly trained and inaccurate.

On 17 January 2009, Israeli forces bombed a school run by the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip.

Iyad El-Baba UNRWA




This is a full translation (by Dena Shunra) of the report you link to above. As you can see, the Channel 2 response is vague and contradictory. They’re not denying they gave a statement to UNRWA. They’re not denying their reporter got it wrong. They’re just unhappy they had to do it.

It’s also notable that Channel 2 buried the response on their website and instead of a senior editor or manager making it in the channels defense. That’s not surprising because no manager is going to defend a story that is totally wrong. Moreover, neither the channel (nor its “IDF” sources) have produced any evidence that there were militants firing rockets from UNRWA schools during the assault.

My conclusion: this item does not in any way contradict the the UNRWA press release in any substantial way, and I consider UNRWA far more reliable than Channel 2.

Misleading UNRWA Publication

The fact that News 2 acquiesced to UNRWA’s request to respond to a report published on the weekend news, which raised claims about Hamas shooting from the UN organizations’ buildings, was presented misleadingly by UNRWA spokespeople as though News2 had retracted that determination, which is not true at all.

[Byline:] Ohad Hamo, News2, published 25 Oct. 2012 18:32

[photo caption:] UNRWA building, Gaza, archive (photo: Reuters)

Yesterday, UN agency UNRWA published a misleading press release which stated that “News 2 published a correction which denies the correctness of claims that it had published in the past - according to which, between 2008 and 2009 Qassem rockets were launched towards Israel from the UN’s UNRWA agency facilities.”

This press release was sent to the media after News 2 acquiesced to the UNRWA request that they publish a response on their behalf to a report by reporter Ohad Hamo, which was aired last Saturday, and dealt with the activity of left-wing activists in the Territories [sic].

In the course of the report a foreign activist cast accusations that Israel had bombed UN hospitals and schools. In response, the reporter told her that Hamas activists were operating from inside those UN facilities, and that attempts were made to shoot Qassem rockets from there toward Israel. The UNRWA agency contacted News 2 with a request that they publish a response to these claims, and in the response, which was published on the Internet alongside the report, it argued that the claims made by the reporter were incorrect.

The fact that News 2 acquiesced to UNRWA’s request to respond to the report was portrayed misleadingly as though News 2 had retracted that determination, which is not true at all.


Since 1948 Israeli propaganda accumulated so many lies that the world has become accustumed to their inflation. I wonder if this is not even part of the
agenda: some few lies might be felt by the world as an offense, but thousands, even millions might be so undigest that everybody prefers look aside... The sionist state herself, she is being built on lies and crimes. So what?


Speak with retired agents from the FBI, the Secret Service, the CIA, and career administrators in the State Department regarding the MAGNITUDE of classified documents which conclusively illustrate the pattern of evasiveness, distortion, and outright falsehoods that have accompanied every Zionist military action since the regime established itself in 1948. Gaza 2009 has joined a long list. It is to the credit of Israeli society that there is no shortage of fearless, courageous, and honest reporters who recognize that the Israeli military is no different than the military establishments of other nations: Power and Victory supersede Truth.



"A United Nations inquiry into attacks on UN personnel or facilities during the Gaza War concluded that Israel had fired on U.N. personnel or facilities on eight separate incidents. The Board found no evidence that U.N. facilities had been used to launch attacks against the IDF. However, the Board's findings conclude only that violation of the inviolability of U.N. premises had occurred; its report does not make legal findings and does not consider whether laws of armed conflict were breached, as acknowledged by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.[1]

The Israeli Government report notes that indeed the test applied by the UN Inquiry Board was merely whether the physical premises of U.N. facilities had been affected and not whether the Laws of Armed Conflict were violated.[2] The IDF conducted its own probe into claims regarding incidents where UN and international facilities were fired upon and damaged. The findings published argue that in all the cases investigated, the damage resulted either from retaliatory fire or from misuse of the UN vehicles by Hamas militants and that there were no deliberate intentions to hit UN facilities.[3]

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the United Nations would consult with Israel to improve their lines of communication to prevent future attacks on U.N. personnel and facilities. Ban plans to seek compensation from Israel for the damage to U.N. property, estimated at $11 million. Mirit Cohen, an Israeli spokeswoman, said that Israeli military inquiries proved beyond doubt that the IDF did not intentionally fire at any U.N. installations.The U.N. board of inquiry urged Israel to withdraw charges that Palestinians had fired from inside U.N.-run schools and U.N. relief offices. Israeli officials said they had already done so in their military inquiry.[1]"

The record speaks for itself. Ch2 peaktime News should in peaktime News retract. And stop fudging.


Wow, the response to the comment speaks as loudly as the article, well said and researched, more argumentators should follow your example.