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Ear to the Ground

U.N. School Where Hundreds of Palestinians Sought Protective Shelter Shelled

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Posted on Jul 24, 2014

    Children injured during a strike on a compound housing the U.N. Beit Hanoun school in Gaza. (AP/Lefteris Pitarakis)

A United Nations-run school in Gaza sheltering Palestinian evacuees was hit by shells Thursday, killing at least 15 people and wounding more than a hundred. According to Al-Jazeera, the shells came from the Israeli military, but The Washington Post says that has not been confirmed.

A spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency said that the Israeli military had been told the “precise GPS coordinates” of the Beit Hanoun school and that his organization had been trying to “coordinate a window [for evacuation] and that was never granted” as the fighting approached the school.

The fourth U.N. facility to be hit since the beginning of the hostilities, the Beit Hanoun school was a “designated emergency shelter” where Palestinians had sought refuge.

Al-Jazeera correspondent Nicole Johnston reports from Gaza that though it was unlikely that the shelling was deliberate, it would be “difficult for Israel to explain this one.”

Al-Jazeera:

Robert Turner, the director for UNRWA told Al Jazeera there was no warning from the Israelis before the shells landed….“This was an installation we were managing, that monitored [to ensure] that our neutrality was maintained.”

Israel has attacked UN schools before, saying that they were safe havens for the armed Palestinians.

UN has criticised the Palestinian groups various times for using UN schools to hide fighters and weapons…A witness who arrived at the Kamal Adwan hospital after the attack told Al Jazeera: “We were sitting in the school, because we were told it is safe.

“By God, there was not a single fighter, not a single shot was fired from the school. Why did they shoot at the school?  Why? Can someone explain that to me?  Why would they shell the school?”

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—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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