UN Accuses Israel, Apparently Falsely

Yesterday the United Nations suspended aid shipments into the Gaza Strip because, it alleged, one of its aid trucks came under fire from an Israeli tank. The driver of the truck and another occupant were killed in the incident.

The UN immediately accused Israel of firing on the truck:

Shortly before the pause took effect, the U.N. said one of its aid trucks came under fire from a gunner on an Israeli tank, killing the driver.

U.N. spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said the U.N. coordinated the delivery in northern Gaza with Israel, and the vehicle was marked with a U.N. flag and insignia. The Israeli army said it was investigating.

The UN did not immediately explain how it knew that the attack came from an Israeli tank. Now, the IDF, having investigated, says that its troops did not fire on the UN truck. It appears likely that the truck’s occupants were hit by sniper fire rather than a tank shell:

The IDF was not responsible for the death of a Palestinian aid worker contracted to the UN and the wounding of two others last Thursday, the IDF Spokesperson said Saturday. …

The version of events which posited that the IDF had attacked an aid convoy was widely disseminated in the global media, and it was only on Friday afternoon that the IDF posited a different theory.

On Friday, the Post reported that contrary to foreign press reports, it was not certain that an IDF tank shell hit the aid truck, and that in all probability, the aid workers were hit by Hamas gunfire. The foreign press reports were based on UN sources, who later admitted to the Post that they were not sure in which direction the truck was headed when it was hit, and could also not say with certainty that tank shells were responsible.

Foreign press reports said the dead Palestinian and two others were hit by tank shells. An MDA medic at the scene told the Post that soldiers in the field had said Hamas snipers targeted the aid workers. A Post probe revealed that the two wounded Palestinians were being treated at Barzilai for gunshot wounds.

Having lost time in blaming Israel for the attack, the UN now says that it wants to investigate:

Reacting to the IDF’s assertion that it did not fire on the UN convoy last Thursday, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said the UN “was careful to source its information from eyewitnesses on the ground.”

Gunness added that the UN was keen to “clear the fog of war” and get to the bottom of the incident.

Accusation first, investigation later.

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