Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz announced Sunday that UNWRA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) ambulances were used to steal and transport body parts of Israeli soldiers killed in last Wednesday’s bomb attack on the Philadelphi route in southern Gaza. The senior minister called upon UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan to address the disturbing phenomenon.
At today’s cabinet meeting, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said that the UN ambulance, which had also been used to transport terrorists, had been captured by security forces near the Philadelphi area. He said that only after intense diplomatic pressure did UNRWA announce that it would conduct an internal investigation into the matter. He issued a call to UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan as well, urging him to conduct an external audit examining the extent of the involvement of the UN aid program with terrorism.
It was initially reported, following a press conference by the Gaza division commander Brigadier-General Shmuel Zakai, that Israel had documented evidence showing Palestinian terrorists using ambulances disguised as United Nations vehicles. Following the capture of the vehicles used, it became clear that they were genuine UN vehicles.
UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, was aware of the allegations made through the media by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. “Both he and the Commissioner-General of [the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA)] take such accusations very seriously,” he said.
UNRWA issued a statement claiming armed terrorists threatened the lives of an UNWRA ambulance team and forced them to transport an injured gunman and two of his armed colleagues to a hospital in Gaza City last week.
In the October 2000 abduction of three soldiers from the northern border, Hizbullah also used UN vehicles to kidnap the soldiers who were all killed.