UNRWA Complicity in Terror

IDF cameras have caught PLO Arab terrorists doing the inconceivable – loading what appears to be a Kassam rocket into a UN ambulance. As a result of this damning evidence, Israel is demanding the resignation of Peter Hansen, the commissioner-general of UNRWA in Gaza, and a known hater of Israel.


In response, this is what Hansen had to say:

Reached by telephone, Hansen said Saturday his organization was investigating the claims made by the IDF. He claimed the IDF had in the past made false allegations against UNRWA.


“We are doing our best to see what is the basis for these allegations,” Hansen said.


Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Hansen said he was on his way to Jerusalem in the hopes of seeing higher-resolution footage of the incident. He added that he has ordered an investigation of all ambulance drivers and orderlies.


This won’t be the first time false allegations have been made against us. Everyone who has seen the footage has told me the object looks more like a folded-up stretcher than anything else. Especially since it was being carried with one hand. A Kassam rocket would be too heavy for a man to carry with one hand.”

Let us deal with each of these claims.


“The object looks more like a folded-up stretcher than anything else”


Here is footage of the incident, divided into the following three sections:

1. Launching of a Kassam rocket 

2. Men watching something being buried in the middle of the road

3.  Men walking along a wall, with one carrying the alleged Kassam. They pass through a gate and load the Kassam on to a vehicle marked “UN.”


Here is a still from the footage, which I have enlarged:



The object clearly looks nothing like a folded-up stretcher, and very much like a rocket of some sort. Imshin actually saw the footage on television on numerous occasions, and had this to say:

I’ve seen it on TV a few times more. It is far clearer on TV, much better quality. It is quite clear that what the man is carrying and loading into the vehicle is a long metal tube.

Furthermore, look at Hansen’s exact words:

Everyone who has seen the footage has told me the object looks more like a folded-up stretcher than anything else..” Has he even seen the footage? Or is he relying on heresay to substantiate his rebuttal of Israel’s allegations? If he personally thinks the object looks like a stretcher, then he is too blind to be in charge of UNRWA. If he is relying on heresay, than he is too stupid. Either way, off with his head.


“Especially since it was being carried with one hand. A Kassam rocket would be too heavy for a man to carry with one hand.”


The Jerusalem Post rebuts this as follows:

According to the IDF website, the Kassam 1 rocket is about 2 meters long and weighs on average 5.5 KG. The Kassam 2 weighs an estimated 32KG, and the Kassam 3 weighs roughly 90 KG.

Strike 2.


“This won’t be the first time false allegations have been made against us..”


Hansen has not provided one example of another false allegation made by Israel against the UN. In contrast, the IDF has on many occasions found proof of UNRWA ambulances being used for terror, including the following:

  • In a document seized during Operation Defensive Shield, it was noted that weapons were concealed in the floor of an ambulance.

  • In an another document it is noted that the PLO Arab  general intelligence service used an ambulance to transfer a suspect from Husan to Bethlehem.

  • On March 27, 2002 IDF forces arrested Islam Jibril, a Tanzim operative at a checkpoint near Ramallah. Jibril, born 1971, a resident of the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, worked as an ambulance driver in the Palestinian Red Crescent. Jibril was arrested while driving a Red Crescent ambulance containing an explosive belt and explosive devices. During his investigation Jiblril confessed that the bombs were handed to him in Nablus by Mahmud Titi, a senior Tanzim operative in the Samaria area who was killed by security forces. The explosive belt was hidden underneath a stretch carrying a sick Palestinian boy aside his family members.

  • Investigation has revealed that during March 2002 several PLO Arab terrorists in Ramallah were using ambulances in order to move from one spot to another. The terrorists were wearing medical uniforms and some of them used city hospitals as a hiding place.

  • Update: Ha’aretz have more on Hansen’s rebuttal.

    Hansen told Haaretz that it is easy to prove that the suspicious looking object in the photo is a stretcher. According to Hansen, the image broadcast on television shows two men approaching two ambulances, one of whom is carrying an object that could not weigh more than a few kilos. He said that he had learned from a simple Google search that a Qassam rocket is 1.80 meters long and weighs 50 kilos.


    The photographic image, on the other hand, Hansen explained, reveals an object 5 centimeters wide, while the Qassam has a diameter of 17 centimeters. A piece of cloth, he added, was clearly visible in the photo, which proves it was an ambulance stretcher, and naturally, this is what the ambulance crew were carrying. Hansen also said that he is concerned that the IDF’s unfounded accusations might lead to incitement, since soldiers who give credence to the IDF statement, may become suspicious of every ambulance that arrives at a checkpoint, putting UNRWA crews in grave danger.

    As already discussed, the Kassam 1 weighs on average 5.5kg. Hansen’s reliance on Google provides anything but a rock-solid case.


    Furthermore, how can he possibly determine that the object is 5cm wide, from the footage? And even if this was the case, he is still arguing that it is a particular, “larger” Kassam. The IDF website shows that the Kassam 1 has an approximate diameter of 6cm, making it likely that this was the object!


    Finally, I fail to see how the purported existence of cloth proves that it was a stretcher. Assuming that cloth is visible from the footage, it would likely that the terrorists would be trying to hide the Kassam under cloth, rather than visibly carrying a rocket. After all, smuggling rockets in ambulances is, by definition, a clandestine operation.


    Update 2: Here is more on Hansen’s, and UNRWA’s anti-Israel bias:

    Several months ago, Israel complained that Hansen had submitted exaggerated reports to the UN about the number of houses demolished by the IDF in Rafah. Recently, Hansen said that he was forced to send foreign workers employed by UNRWA out of the Gaza strip, because Israel had been harassing them. An inquiry later revealed that the decision to remove the workers had been motivated by fear of violence at the hands of Palestinian elements.


    Israel also complained to Annan following the publication of an article by Hansen in the International Herald Tribune in which he denounced Israel in harsh language.


    In its denial, an UNRWA source said: “The occupation authorities didn’t present any evidence to prove such claims and allegations.” The source added: “UNRWA just offers humanitarian aide to the Palestinians, and it is not part of the ongoing conflict.”


    “Until now, the Israeli government has not officially contacted UNRWA concerning these allegations and claims, which UNRWA totally rejects, because this would hurt its credibility in doing its job,” said the source. 

    Update 4/10: See here for today’s follow-up.


    David Lange

    A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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