UN school in Jabiliya attacked 30 July

UNRWA school shelter bombing: it was no mistake

“Didn’t know it was a school sheltering civilians”? No. “Didn’t know it was there”? No. “Errant ‘khamas’ missile”? No. None of the lies and excuses so often put forward by Israel will suffice. No one believes them any more. In fact, the “precision” about which it has boasted is now an indictment on its intent to commit war crimes. It was given the precise coordinates to the UNRWA school in Jabiliya at total of seventeen times. The Jewish military state targeted and attacked it intentionally, and precisely. This makes the fifth sixth school it has precisely targeted and attacked.

30 July, 2014 Middle East Eye
The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees issued a furious denunciation of an Israel strike on one of its schools in Gaza which killed 16 people on Wednesday.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces,” said UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl, saying the school’s location had been communicated to the Israeli army 17 times.

Shortly after dawn, two shells slammed into classrooms in the school where thousands of Palestinian refugees were sheltering after fleeing their homes following an Israeli warning, as the fighting intensified in northern Gaza.

At least 16 people were killed in a strike which Krahenbuhl described as “intolerable”.

“No words to adequately express my anger and indignation,” he wrote on his official Twitter account.

“This is the sixth time one of our UNRWA schools has been struck. Our staff leading the international response are being killed,” he wrote, indicating some 3,300 people had been sheltering in the school in Jabaliya refugee camp at the moment it was struck.

“Children, women and men killed and injured as they slept in place where they should have been safe and protected. They were not. Intolerable.”

At least 43 people were killed early on Wednesday during intense bombing by Israeli forces on the Jabaliya neighbourhood, north of Gaza City.

The latest attacks raised the death toll in Gaza to 1,283, with more than 7,100 people injured, according to Health Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra. On the Israeli side 53 soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

A shelling shortly after 530am (0230 GMT) hit the UN-run Abu Haseen School in Jabaliya, according to a UN official who spoke to AFP. The school was being used as a shelter to house dozens of families displaced by the Israeli military offensive, the official said.

Survivors of the attack have now fled the school, according to MEE’s Mohammed Omer in Gaza, and are sleeping on the streets. He said that currently no one is offering these people any support services.

Gaza’s Ministry of Interior made a statement after the attack calling on the UN to protect refugees and “break its silence over Israeli crimes”.

A spokesperson for the Israeli army has said the military is investigating the reported hit on a UN school.

This is the latest in several incidents where UN facilities have been struck in Gaza. On 25 July at least 15 people were killed and more than 200 injured when a playground filled with families was bombed at a UN school in Beit Hanoun.

Israel has denied being responsible for the deaths but have admitted firing a single “errant” shell at the school, which they say was empty at the time. UN staff, however, have said after the initial shell the playground was hit by “several others in the close vicinity of the school within a matter of minutes”.

UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness responded to the Israeli denial by saying: “We look forward to a report that is fair and objective in establishing the facts about the deaths at Beit Hanoun.”

Over 200,000 people, 10 percent of Gaza’s population, have taken shelter at UN facilities since the Israeli assault began on 7 July. They evacuated after Israel warned entire neighbourhoods to leave their homes ahead of military strikes.

UNRWA has said that it is at “breaking point”.

On Tuesday UNRWA said they had found a store of rockets at one of their schools in Gaza. Spokesperson Gunness decried the finding as putting civilians in direct danger.

“This is yet another flagrant violation of the neutrality of our premises. We call on all the warring parties to respect the inviolability of UN property,” he said.

Israel accuses Hamas and the Palestinian factions of firing rockets from within UNRWA properties, a charge the groups have repeatedly denied.

After a dip in fighting over the weekend, Israel has implemented its most intense bombing of the Gaza strip yet. Elsewhere on Wednesday, attacks killed an 11-year-old disabled girl in north Gaza and a 16-year old girl in a central area of the coastal enclave, according health ministry spokesperson Qudra.

In Khan Younis, a military strike killed 10 members of a single family, Qudra said, including one child who could not be immediately identified. A middle-aged man was killed earlier in the morning in the southern town of Rafah.

Both sides continue to be pressed on agreeing on a ceasefire, although a deal still appears to be some way off being agreed.

A Palestinian delegation including President Mahmoud Abbas and representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are due to arrive in Cairo on Wednesday for ceasefire talks.

On the Israeli side their security cabinet will meet on Wednesday at 2pm (1100 GMT) to discuss the military offensive in Gaza. Their foreign ministry has advised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to begin drafting a UN Security Council resolution on “terms for ending the war in the Gaza Strip”, according to Haaretz.

The move, according to the Israeli daily, is an attempt to protect Israel’s interests after US Secretary of State John Kerry proposed a ceasefire deal that was heavily criticised in Israel for pandering to the needs of Hamas. The initiative, leaked to Middle East Eye, included provisions to negotiate an end to Israel’s punishing eight-year long siege of Gaza and a commitment from international parties to provide aid to the Palestinian people.

Secretary of State Kerry returned home to the US on Monday after failing to win support for his ceasefire proposal. On Tuesday he said that Israeli premier Netanyahu had spoken to him “about an idea and a possibility of a ceasefire. He raised it with me, as he has consistently.”

Kerry added that Netanyahu had said he would “embrace a ceasefire that permits Israel to protect itself against [Palestinian fighters’] tunnels and obviously not be disadvantaged for the great sacrifice they have made thus far.”

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