Israeli shells kill 16 civilians at UN shelter in Gaza

Days of Palestine, Gaza –It was about 10 days since the massive Israeli war had started and engulfed the homes of most Palestinians in the eastern areas of the Gaza Strip. Families packed up their belongings and children and headed to UN schools, the only places presumed remained safe. As scared civilians were gathering in the courtyard of Abu Hussein School in the north of the Gaza Strip, suddenly, Israeli shells tore the crowd, killed 16 civilians and wounded scores, mostly women and children. People, who remained alive, reported three to five blasts fired by an Israeli tank. Immediately, the Israeli occupation denied the attack and suggested that rockets fired by Palestinian fighters might have fallen short of their targets or that the school might have been hit with errant shells from either side in fighting nearby. “Preparing for such massacre, the UNRWA officials claimed that they found Palestinian homemade rockets hidden at one of their premises in Gaza,” Ali, who was sitting beside his three year old son in Al-Shifa Hospital, screamed. Following to the UNRWA statement, in which it claimed it discovered rockets hidden in one of its schools, Palestinian officials called upon it to provide evidence about the incident. “We sought safety in the UN school,” said Ali, while holding a bandage on the forehead of his little son, who is suffering serious condition after the attack on the school. “They give their backs to the international organisation and hit us,” he added. According to UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness, UNRWA hosts around 270,000 displaced civilians in 90 UN-run schools in the Gaza Strip. An average population of each shelter (school) is 3,000. UN figures showed that around 475,000 Gazans have fled their homes. This number represents ¼ of the Gaza popularion. On his twitter account, Gunness mourned the death of nine UNRWA staff members since the beginning of the war. The attacks of the Israeli occupation against the Palestinian civilian facilities did not stop at this point. It has targeted UNRWA schools six times so far. “On six occasions since the start of the conflict, UNRWA schools housing the displaced were subject to direct shelling,” UN statement said. After a similar incident in Rafah, north of the Gaza Strip, the UN directly blamed the Israeli occupation and said there was no reason to bomb the school. A UN statement hinted that the school was bombed deliberately. “For this particular installation we notified the Israeli Army on 33 separate occasions that this school in Rafah was being used to accommodate the displaced,” the statement said, “the last time only an hour before the incident.” As the incident in this school was preceded and followed by two similar incident, the UN statement came very strong. “The incident in Rafah [the incident that followed] is a further tragic and unacceptable reminder that there is nowhere safe in Gaza for people to take refuge,” the statement said. It added: “No one feels secure and given that Gaza is enclosed by a barrier, there is also nowhere safe for them to run.”

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