6 December 2002
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has learned that two if its employees have been killed during the Israeli military assault on Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip in the early hours of this morning.
Osama Hassan Tahrawi, 31, was a school attendant at UNRWA’s Bureij Boys’ Preparatory School. Initial reports indicate that he was killed by a rocket fired from a helicopter while he was standing in his yard watching the military operation. He was killed with another six friends and relatives. UNRWA’s field staff report that he was not armed and had no connection either with any militant organization or with the families whose homes were being targeted during the incursion.
Ahlam Riziq Kandil, 32, was a school teacher in UNRWA’s Bureij Elementary Co-educational school. Reports received by UNRWA indicate that she was hit while in her home. She died from her injuries after being taken to hospital.
The killing of two staff members on the night of the Eid festival has brought great sadness to all of the Agency. Their deaths come just two weeks after another UNRWA worker, Iain Hook, was killed by an Israeli soldier in Jenin camp.
Peter Hansen, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General said: “The tragic death toll for UNRWA staff has now risen to five people in the course of this year. This loss of civilian lives, of people working for a humanitarian UN Agency, is completely unacceptable. I must condemn what appears to be the indiscriminate use of heavy firepower in a densely populated civilian area. UNRWA will carry out a detailed inquiry into the deaths.”
For more information call: Paul McCann: +972 59 428 008 or 50 441 405.
In addition to the statement above, it is to be noted that the IDF operation started at 0215 hrs with an incursion into Bureij refugee camp, home to over 29,700 refugees, reportedly to arrest a wanted person and to blow up his house. This resulted in a two-hour gun battle, during which the IDF fired tank shells and at least one missile from a helicopter. The total number of people killed as a result of this was ten, including two UNRWA employees. 13 others were injured and 7 families became homeless. The IDF withdrew at 0430 hrs.