By Patrick Worsnip
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked for a full investigation of an incident in which Palestinian militants fired rockets at Israel from a U.N.-run school in Gaza, the United Nations said on Thursday.
U.N. officials said the school in the town of Beit Hanoun run by the UNRWA agency, which aids Palestinian refugees, was empty at the time of last week’s incident after being evacuated because of an Israeli incursion into Gaza.
"The Secretary-General has asked that UNRWA fully investigate this incident," U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said at a news briefing.
"The Secretary-General condemns this abuse of U.N. facilities, which is a serious violation of the U.N.’s privileges and immunities," Okabe said.
"He calls on all involved in this conflict to avoid actions that endanger the lives of civilians, especially children, and that put at risk UNRWA’s ability to carry out its humanitarian mission."
UNRWA Commissioner-General Karen Koning AbuZayd told a U.N. news conference on Wednesday that all teachers and students and the one guard employed at the school had been moved out following the Israeli incursion.
She said first reports were that a Palestinian militant had been killed near the school and UNRWA only discovered militants had been inside after seeing television footage a week ago.
"This is a problem when we’re not there, what happens to our schools," AbuZayd said.
"We’ve complained frequently to both sides: to the Israelis when the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) comes in and use our schools for interrogating people, and also to the Palestinians whenever anybody also violates our installations."
She said UNRWA had complained about the latest incident to Palestinian authorities in Gaza, which was taken over by the militant Hamas group in June, "and I think ... the powers in Gaza right now will try to do something."
Israel occupied the Gaza Strip along with other territories in 1967, but withdrew in 2005. Israeli forces, however, still frequently mount raids into Gaza to try to strike at Palestinian militants firing rockets at Israel.
UNRWA’s full name is United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Founded in 1948, it provides education, health, relief and social services to over 4.4 million refugees in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, according to its Web site.