Canada Seeks Probe into Weapons Seized at UN Schools in Gaza
By Kalyan Kumar | July 25, 2014 2:36 PM EST
The Canadian Government has called for a UN investigation into the reported discoveries of weapons caches at the UN-run schools in the Gaza Strip, reported Global Post. According to Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, it was shocking that stockpiles of rockets were found in a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza.
An Israeli Apache helicopter fires flares above Israel near the border with the northern Gaza Strip July 22, 2014. Israel pounded targets across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, saying no ceasefire was near as top U.S. and United Nations diplomats pursued talks on halting the fighting that has claimed more than 600 lives. With the conflict entering its third week, the Palestinian death toll rose to 616, including nearly 100 children and many other civilians, Gaza health officials said. Israel's casualties also mounted, with the military announcing the deaths of two more soldiers, bringing the number of army fatalities to 27 - almost three times as many as were killed in the last ground invasion of Gaza, in a 2008-2009 war. Two Israeli civilians have also been killed by Palestinian rocket fire into Israel.
More alarming were reports that in the first case, officials with the United Nations returned these weapons to Hamas after Israeli officials discovered the location of stored weapons. Canada lists Hamas as a terrorist organisation
However, Baird did not reveal the source of these allegations. He added that Canada wanted an immediate probe by an independent investigation agency to bring out the factual truth surrounding these reports. Canada also called on the United Nations to ensure that no rockets are returned to Hamas. The Canadian foreign minister also said anything short of an independent investigation would be unacceptable to his country.
The UN officials had reported the seizure of weapons in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip, the second time in a week. Meanwhile, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said it had already launched an investigation into the 20 rockets hidden in its vacant schools in Gaza Strip.
The UN agency condemned the incident as a flagrant violation of international law and claimed the rockets had been removed and the concerned parties have been informed.
Progress in Sight
Meanwhile, the United States has expressed satisfaction at the signs of progress in the ceasefire talks, though it is too early to look for a quick end to the conflict, reports CTV News. Fierce battles in southern Gaza took heavy toll, and 695 Palestinians and 34 Israelis have died.
John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, is actively brokering a truce ,and he has met United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon before rushing to Israel. But negotiators are facing the challenge of the hardening stands by Hamas and Israel. Israel is determined to cut the military capabilities of the militant group Hamas.
Hamas insists that its militants would not budge until the Egyptian-Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip is lifted. Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, in a televised address from Doha, said in the ongoing conflict, Israel is the executioner, aggressor, occupier and settler and Palestinians are the true owners of the land. Therefore Hamas will not accept anything short of a complete end to the blockade. Hamas rules the impoverished coastal Gaza territory.
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