‘Children killed in their sleep’: Israeli artillery fire hits UN school, killing at least 20

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A child in the aftermath of the Israeli attack on an UNRWA school. (Photo: Reuters and EPA)
A child in the aftermath of the Israeli attack on an UNRWA school. (Photo: Reuters and EPA)

Israeli military fire hit a United Nations-run school in Gaza today, killing at least 20 people and injuring an estimated 90 people. The school under attack, called the Abu Hussein girls’ elementary school, is located in the densely-populated Jabaliya refugee camp.

The United Nations Relief Works and Agency (UNRWA), the group that serves Palestinian refugees, issued a stern statement placing the blame for the attack on the Israeli army.

Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN designated shelter in Gaza. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced,” said UNRWA Secretary General Pierre Krähenbühl. “We have visited the site and gathered evidence. We have analysed fragments, examined craters and other damage. Our initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery that hit our school, in which 3,300 people had sought refuge.” 

Krähenbühl added that the Israeli attack violated international law, and that UNRWA had informed Israel of the location of the school 17 times. The Palestinians who were sheltering there had been told by the Israeli military to flee their Gaza neighborhoods, only to be hit by Israeli shells at the place they thought would be safe. An estimated 240,000 displaced Palestinians are being sheltered in UNRWA facilities. 

Israeli army spokespeople claim that Palestinian fighters fired from near the school–a claim they have frequently made when confronted by their attacks on civilians.

It was the second time in two weeks that an attack on a UN school caused deaths. Israel denies it hit the UN school in Beit Hanoun it bombarded last week, though Gaza-based journalists like The Daily Beast’s Jesse Rosenfeld have cast doubt on those claims, writing that the evidence appears to indicate Israeli fire hitting the area. The attack killed 16 people. UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said last week that three other UNRWA installations had been fired on by Israel, injuring five Palestinians in one incident.

UNRWA has also had to contend with Palestinian rockets being stored in schools that were abandoned. But there is no evidence that the schools hit by Israeli fire have rockets in them.

The attack on the UNRWA school in Jabaliya came after another night of heavy Israeli bombardment. The Gaza Ministry of Health said that over 70 Palestinians were killed since midnight. That brings the death toll to well over 1,200 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians.

Israel declared what it called a “humanitarian window” for four hours today–but also said it would continue to operate militarily in areas where soldiers were already firing. Hamas called it a declaration meant for the media and did not halt its fire. Israeli shells killed at least five Palestinians during the “humanitarian window, Ma’an News Agency reported. And another Israeli attack on a market in the Gaza neighborhood of Shuja’iyeh killed at least 15 people.

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Pierre Krähenbühl @PKraehenbuehl “This is 6th time one of our @UNRWA schools has been struck. Our staff leading int’l response are being killed. This is a breaking point” The UNRWA statement is worth reading in full “The United Nations Relief and Works Agency has strongly condemned an Israeli strike on a UN school being used as a shelter in the Jabaliya refugee camp, which killed at least 19 people and injured 90. The agency… Read more »

The Real Name of this War on Terror, Violence, Unrest, Injustice, Poverty, Drugs, Addiction and Crime is called CORRUPTION. Plain and simple. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Global Think Tank) ~ “Corruption: The Unrecognized Threat to International Security” – Our world leaders need to officially ‘recognize’ and Declare it for what it is. “The War on Corruption”. And Turn the Page of History. Wherever you are in the World, in your own jursidictions and… Read more »

I watched an outraged UN official confirm this. I heard the despair in his voice. I am disgusted that I do not hear ANY outrage from my country, or the deserving condemnation for this brutal slaughter. ENOUGH of the war criminals showing up in the MSM and blaming this again on the Palestinians. Enough. Those who kill and responsible are the ones that pull the trigger/push the buttons. This is the big fat bully hurting… Read more »

A new massacre happened half an hour ago, 16 dead in a shelling of a heavily trafficked street of Shujaiah. Being shown on Mayadeen now, with bodies strewn all over the ground.

Iran has threatened to do something about Gaza.

We can infer that this is consistent with United States policy. This is so, because U.S. law prohibits export of weapons for aggression, terrorism, genocide, and crimes against humanity. The State Department must approve export of weapons, and the President is empowered to determine whether U.S. made weapons are being used or likely be used for legitimate self defense, and must report to Congress if he believes such is not the case. The humane and… Read more »