28 October 2004

Secretary-General Notes Israel’s Withdrawal of Rocket Allegation against UNRWA

NEW YORK, 27 October (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement is attributable to the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General has reviewed the report by the Investigation Team from the Secretariat which has inquired into the Israeli allegations against UNRWA personnel.

The Secretary-General takes note of the Team’s conclusion that the allegation that a rocket was loaded into an UNRWA ambulance was unjustified as the object, in fact, was a folding stretcher of the type carried as normal equipment in UNRWA ambulances.  He also takes note that, following the Team’s visit, the Government of Israel has admitted that it wrongly identified the stretcher as a Qassam Rocket and has publicly withdrawn the allegations.

The Secretary-General acknowledges the cooperation of the Government of Israel with the United Nations team in dealing with this inquiry.  He expects that any issues of this nature will be addressed through normal diplomatic channels.  He welcomes the offer of the Israeli authorities to work towards strengthening their cooperation with the United Nations and UNRWA.

The Secretary-General reiterates his full confidence in the integrity and impartiality of Mr. Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of UNRWA.  He commends UNRWA personnel for their dedication in providing vital assistance under very difficult circumstances to the Palestinian refugee communities in the occupied Palestinian territory and the region.

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