New York, 12 August 2009
The following statement on recent press reports about UNRWA was endorsed by the Secretary-General at the Media Briefing at UN Headquarters in New York on 12 August 2009.
UNRWA is increasingly concerned about a pattern of unfounded Israeli press reports, the most recent of which cites an anonymous Israeli Defence Official, claiming that Hamas had hijacked at gunpoint three UNRWA ambulances. The allegation is without foundation and UNRWA has provided photographic evidence of the ambulances in question located at its HQ in Gaza. UNRWA has further offered to return the ambulances to the Israeli crossing point for inspection and verification if there is any lingering doubt on the issue. UNRWA has protested this and other similarly inaccurate reports to the Israeli authorities and expects that those anonymous officials involved in recent briefings to the press will be more accurate in the future. UNRWA is playing a vital humanitarian role in Gaza and false reporting about UNRWA is a most unhelpful distraction from the humanitarian plight of Gaza’s 1.5 million Palestinians who are living in quite unbearable conditions.
The Secretary-General reiterates the Quartet's call for the immediate reopening of Gaza's crossing points to allow the rebuilding of the 50,000 homes, damaged and destroyed by the Israeli military operation "Cast Lead" earlier this year.