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Israel calls for investigation after video of armed men in UN building in Gaza

The Israeli Army 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 men wielding weapons there.

Drone images published by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Tuesday (14) and geolocated by CNN show the armed men near unmarked vehicles at a logistics facility of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East, UNRWA, in Rafah, which served as a key aid distribution point.

According to the Israeli military, the footage was taken on Saturday, May 11, three days before the IDF released it. A CNN cannot independently verify the date the video was recorded.

UNRWA, the main UN agency operating in Gaza, said it is “unable to verify the authenticity or content” of the video, but said it is “likely” the video shows a UNRWA warehouse that was emptied last week.

“UNRWA 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, facilities 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 have or use weapons in a UN installation,” he added.

Touma said UNRWA staff were ordered to leave the site last week “for their safety”, following the Israeli army's withdrawal orders to parts of eastern Rafah. Touma said UNRWA personnel left vehicles and flour at the facility.

Israel said COGAT, the Israeli agency tasked with coordinating humanitarian aid to Gaza, shared the Israeli military's findings with “senior officials in the international community,” including UN officials.

“This is a worrying phenomenon,” IDF spokesman Major Nir Dinar told CNN . “This is not the first time we are witnessing armed personnel present in UN facilities and vehicles.”

Dinar said the Israeli Army “did not attack the militants and vehicles because it was clear they were on UN premises and close to UN staff.” However, the IDF has carried out attacks on UN facilities in the past, including on the same facility in Rafah in March, according to a video of the attack released by the IDF at the time.

It is unclear whether the armed men 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 worker was killed and another injured when the unmarked vehicle they were driving was struck in Rafah. The United Nations said it believes a tank fired at the vehicle and, according to the Israeli Army, the incident is “under review”.

Source: CNN Brasil

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