Vandalizing UN children's summer camp in Gaza outrages Palestinians

08:52, June 29, 2010      

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The attack on a UN-run children's summer camp in the Gaza Strip angered the Palestinians, while the Hamas government said it is investigating the incident.

It is the second attack in a month by unknown masked militants on summer camps run by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency ( UNRWA), which suggested growing hostility between the international organization and Islamic extremists in the Hamas- ruled enclave.

Adnan Abu Hasna, UNRWA spokesman in the Gaza Strip told Xinhua that around 25 masked gunmen stormed the summer camp on the beach of al-Zawayda town in central Gaza, adding that they tied the hands and legs of the guards, set the camp ablaze after vandalizing its properties.

The summer camps, which occupied three acres and were divided into several tents and sections, looked completely burned and destroyed. Games zones as well as plastic swimming pools were destroyed.

The camp held activities six days a week, except Friday. It had two shifts, morning shift for boys and afternoon shift for girls. Each shift had 250 participants, most of whom live in poor refugee camps in central Gaza Strip.

The assailants left neither letters nor signs, Abu Hasna said, adding the UNRWA had immediately reported the attack to the Hamas police.

Two days before the summer camp was vandalized, an extremist Islamic group called itself "the free of the homeland" had sent a leaflet to reporters, slamming the international humanitarian organization for teaching the children dancing and debauchery.

UNRWA Chief of Operations John Ging described the early Monday attack as cowardly and abject. He said in a press statement that the great success "achieved by the UNRWA in running the summer camps to entertain children is frustrating those who are behind the attack."

"It is the second attack, which is another example of the growing extremism in Gaza. I believe it is necessary to change the circumstances on the ground which generate such kinds of manners," said Ging, who insisted that the UN won't stop "offering its services and entertaining Gaza Strip children."

The Union of UNRWA Arab Employees in a statement condemned the attack, saying it is an evidence that there is still someone " doesn't want to see the community living safe and secure."

Meanwhile, media office of the Hamas police forces in the Gaza Strip said in a press statement that the police reject to use such a style in dealing with the international humanitarian agency.

Ihab al-Ghussein, spokesman for Hamas' interior ministry said the security agency has started an investigation. He added that the government and the interior ministry reject such actions as vandalizing, and they will never let anyone bring chaos and anarchy back to Gaza.

The interior ministry said last month that the security forces arrested a group of suspects, who were said to be behind the attack on the main UNRWA summer camp on the beach of Gaza City.

Gaza-based rights groups also condemned the attacks on UNRWA summer camps, saying in separate statements that the attacks "are dangerous." They warned of growing violence against public liberty in the Gaza Strip.

Every year, the UNRWA holds summer camps for refugee children in the Gaza Strip. This year, the UNRWA named its summer camps " the summer games for children," which serve 250,000 boys and girls.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:李牧(实习))

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