28th Oct 2016

Israeli attack on school in Gaza is 'outrageous', says UN

  • Gaza officials say at least 1,361 Palestinians have been killed (Photo: EUobserver)

Israeli rocket fire on sleeping children at a school in Jabaliya refugee camp on Wednesday (30 July) is a serious violation of international law, the United Nations has said.

"It is outrageous. It is unjustifiable. And it demands accountability and justice," said UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon.

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UN officials on the ground called Israeli army contacts 17 times to give them the GPS co-ordinates of the school as a precautionary measure to avoid becoming a target.

"Precise location of Jabalia Elementary Girls School #Gaza & that it housed 3,000 displaced was communicated to Israeli army 17 times," wrote UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesman Christopher Gunness in a tweet.

Five shells later hit the school, which is a designated UNRWA shelter.

Around 15 people, mostly women and children, died with another 100 injured.

Gunness said the international community must take a deliberate political action to put an end to the carnage.

“UNRWA is overwhelmed in #Gaza we have reached breaking point, our staff are being killed our shelters overflowing. Where will it end?” he wrote in a tweet.

The month-long Israeli-led assault has displaced 250,000 people, forced another 200,000 into their shelters, and killed over 1,300. On the Israeli side, 58 have been killed - 56 soldiers and two civilians.

An Israeli spokesperson said the shelling of the school would be investigated. Israel said it responded to mortar fire attacks from positions in “the vicinity of the UNRWA school in Jabalya”.

It is the sixth time an UN-backed school in Gaza has been hit by the Israeli army.

The EU said it is preparing a statement to be released later today.

Meanwhile, some EU politicians have been reacting on Twitter.

Germany’s foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza is needed as well as a political solution to end the conflict.

He also pledged an additional €8.5 million in humanitarian aid relief for the people in Gaza.

Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt condemned the attack on the school as a “gross violation of international law".

EU education commissioner Androulla Vassiliou, wrote: “We are shocked by the new bombardment by Israel of a UN school in Gaza and the killing of many innocent people! Please, Stop this madness!”

Reactions in the Americas have been more direct.

Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and El Salvador have called home their ambassadors from Israel.

Israel’s foreign ministry called it a “hasty decision”.

The White House, for its part, called for a ceasefire.

“This violence underscores the need to achieve a cease-fire as soon as possible,” a spokesperson said.

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