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Israeli army calls for investigation after video released showing armed men at UN premises in Gaza

The Israeli military is calling on the United Nations to investigate the presence of armed militants at a UN facility in southern Gaza after releasing a video showing armed men at the facility.

Drone footage released Tuesday by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and geotagged by CNN shows the gunmen near UN-marked vehicles at an UNRWA logistics facility in Rafah, which served as a key distribution point help. The Israeli military said the footage was filmed on May 11, three days before it was released by the IDF. CNN cannot independently verify the date the video was filmed.

UNRWA, the main United Nations agency operating in Gaza, said it was “unable to verify the authenticity or content” of the video, but said it was “likely” that the video showed a UNRWA warehouse which was evacuated last week.

“URNWA condemns the use of UN facilities by any party to the conflict for military or combat purposes. We have repeatedly called for independent investigations and accountability for the blatant disregard for the lives, premises and operations of UN personnel,” UNRWA spokesperson Juliette Touma said in a statement. . “We reiterate our call on all parties to the conflict to respect the sanctity and neutrality of UN facilities. Under no circumstances should anyone possess or use weapons in a UN facility. »

Touma said UNRWA personnel were ordered to evacuate the facilities last week “for their safety” following Israeli military evacuation orders for parts of eastern Rafah. Touma said UNRWA personnel left vehicles and flour behind.

The Israeli military said COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for coordinating humanitarian aid to Gaza, had shared its findings with “senior officials in the international community,” including UN officials.

“This is a worrying phenomenon,” IDF spokesperson Major Nir Dinar told CNN. “This is not the first time we have seen the presence of armed personnel in UN facilities and vehicles. »

Dinar said the Israeli army “did not hit the activists and vehicles because it was clear they were at UN facilities and near UN personnel.” The Israeli military has, however, carried out strikes against UN facilities in the past, including at the same facility east of Rafah in March, according to video of the strike released by the Israeli military at the time. .

It is not clear whether the gunmen in the IDF drone footage are part of Hamas or other militant groups in Gaza.

The Israeli military released the video a day after a United Nations employee was killed and another injured when the U.N.-registered vehicle they were in was struck in Rafah. The United Nations said it believed a tank fired on the vehicle, and the Israeli military said the incident was “under investigation.”

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