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Shelling of a School Where Gazans Had Taken Shelter Kills Women, Children and UN Staff

All of Kamal's family members with him at shelled UN school died. His mother, 2 brothers, sister and stepmother, tweets @sharifkouddous

“All of [Hussein]‘s family members with him at shelled UN school died. His mother, 2 brothers, sister and stepmother,” tweets @sharifkouddous

A UN-run school in Beit Hanun, serving as a refugee centre for Gazans, was shelled, killing 15 Palestinians and leaving more than 200 injured.

Women, children and UN staff were among those killed, according to a statement from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. A total of 800 Palestinians have so far been killed and more than 5,200 injured since clashes between Israel and Gaza started 18 days ago. 

Israel and the Palestinians are exchanging blame on who hit the school, run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza. It is the fourth time in four days that a UN school was struck by explosives, according to the agency. As civilian death tolls mount, Israel’s military says it warned Gazans living in targeted areas to leave, but Palestinians have no where to go.

The vast majority of Gazans cannot leave Gaza. The narrow 40-kilometer-long coastal strip is surrounded by fences and concrete walls along its north and east with Israel and on its south border with Egypt.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010 called Gaza “an open-air prison.” Excessive restrictions from Israel in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank is why most of the world and the United Nations considers this territory “occupied.”

The UNRWA has 83 shelters across Gaza, where 141,338 Palestinian civilians are currently displaced.

The UNRWA reports on its official Twitter account:

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness, who is based in Jerusalem, says Israel knew of where the UNRWA shelter was. In a series of tweets, he explains:

And he adds:

While journalist Kristen Chick, who is in Gaza, tells her more than 19,300 followers what Israeli Defense Forces are saying:

On Twitter, ITN cameraman Sean Swan shares this heart-breaking photograph of children wounded in the attack while a paramedic treats them:

He shares another photograph of a 3-month-old baby being treated after suffering from shrapnel wounds during the attack on the school:

Independent journalist Sharif Kouddous shares this photograph with his more than 76,000 followers on Twitter of a young Palestinian, Hussein, who lost his entire family in the attack:

This photograph has been retweeted more than 1,200 times at the time of writing.

Many journalists have laid the blame on Israel, doubting its version of events that a Hamas projectile fell on the school. Journalist Deema Khatib tells her more than 280,000 followers:

Seriously? Is this what we are supposed to believe? The IDF says it is not sure whether it has hit the UNRWA school or Hamas! Is it possible that Hamas has F16s and similar weapons?

However, according to NBC chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, the UNRWA says it has “no evidence to suggest” the school was being used by militants as human shields — Israel's excuse to bomb facilities.

In a follow-up tweet, Engel wondered:

Meanwhile, the death toll across Gaza continues to pile up.

Ahmed Al-Faraa from Gaza tweets to his 5,121 followers:

Omar Ghraieb tells his more than 22,000 followers:

And WhateverInGaza describes the situation as follows:

  • J. C. Smith

    Is this one of the schools Hamas was using to store or fire rockets, or are supposed to believe this was another one?

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