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UNRWA condemns attack as children smash world record

July 29, 2011 11:24 A.M. (Updated: July 31, 2011 10:01 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees on Thursday strongly condemned an attack on a summer games facility in north-west Gaza.

"The attackers damaged a large billboard, burnt a UN flag and torched part of the stage. None of the UN security personnel at the venue were harmed," UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said in a statement.

The incident was "an attack on the children of Gaza as much as on a neutral United Nations agency," he said, calling "on the authorities in Gaza to investigate and bring those responsible to justice."

He said the United Nations was unbowed and stood by the children and people of Gaza.

The attack occurred on the eve of an attempt by thousands of children attending the summer games to retake the world record from China for the largest number of kites ever flown.

In the event, the children of Gaza succeeded in breaking China's tally and regaining the world record. The unofficial tally for the Gazan children was 13,000 compared to China's record of 10,465 last year.

"Taking on the might of China is a daunting feat for the children of Gaza," said UNRWA's acting director in Gaza Christer Nordahl, "but they have risen brilliantly to the challenge as they have done three times already this year."

"We brought happiness to our country by breaking the world record," record-breaker Nadia El Haddad, 13, said.

"Today because we broke the world record, I feel like I have rights and that I’m like everyone else in the world.”

Eleven-year-old Abdullah Musleh said "I’m happy when I’m flying the kites. We are the best!"

Another kite-flyer, 11-year-old Rawia Abd El Dain, said "I made my kite the Palestinian flag and when I fly it I feel like I’m raising my country and my flag up, up in the sky."

"It was nothing short of miraculous," said Gunness.

“The tiny 'David' of Gaza has overcome the mighty 'Goliath' of China; even more astonishing that the children of Gaza achieved this under the punishing, illegal blockade.

"Three-quarters of a million children are being collectively punished and there must be transparency and accountability to end this affront to our humanity. The kites will provide another iconic reminder of the beauty and potential of these children, despite the injustices they face."

During this Summer Games season organized by UNRWA, the children of Gaza have smashed the world records for the largest number of people flying parachutes from the ground, the largest number of people dribbling footballs simultaneously and for producing the world's largest-ever hand-print painting.

The UNRWA Summer Games provide six weeks of recreational, sporting, cultural and educational activities for a quarter of a million children.
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