A UN school in Gaza was hit by an Israeli airstrike on Thursday, killing 13 staff members and 30 children who were taking shelter there, according to the UN spokesperson. The school, run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), was one of the 64 schools that were hosting thousands of displaced Palestinians who fled their homes near the Israeli border amid the ongoing conflict.
The UNRWA condemned the attack as a “grave violation of international humanitarian law” and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities. “This is a tragedy that should never have happened. These children and staff were seeking refuge and protection in a UN facility. They had a right to feel safe and secure. They had a right to live and learn,” said the UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.
The Israeli military said it was targeting Hamas who were firing rockets from the vicinity of the school, and that it had warned the UN in advance to evacuate the civilians. However, the UNRWA said it had received no such warning, and that it had shared the coordinates of all its schools with the Israeli authorities to avoid such incidents.
The attack came as the death toll from the Israeli offensive on Gaza rose to over 500, including 91 children.
The UN said it urgently needed $95 million to provide humanitarian assistance to the 1.8 million people in Gaza, who are facing a dire situation due to the blockade, power cuts, water shortages and lack of medical supplies1. The UN also appealed for a political solution to end the cycle of violence and address the root causes of the conflict.