Schools ‘bombed’ in latest Gaza escalation, UNRWA chief says — Global Issues


Four schools have been hit in the past four days. Since the beginning of the war, two-thirds of UNRWA Schools in Gaza have been hit, some have been bombed, many have been severely damaged,” said Philippe Lazzarini in a post on X.

In a statement released Tuesday, the Israeli military said it targeted “terrorist infrastructure and terrorist operations” in Gaza City.

Under fire

On Tuesday, At least 25 people were killed after an Israeli attack near a school building According to the enclave’s health authorities, they are providing shelter to displaced Gazans in eastern Khan Younis, southern Gaza.

On Saturday, another attack killed at least 16 people at a UNRWA school in Nuseirat, in central Gaza. A day later, a school in Gaza City was attacked, reportedly sheltering hundreds of people.

More Israeli attacks were reported on or near a UNRWA school in Nuseirat on Monday, UNRWA Director of Communications Juliette Touma told UN News.

No safe place

“This is becoming more and more normal; in the last four days alone we have seen four schools attacked,” she said. Every time a school is hit, “dozens of people pay the price.”

The UN agency – the largest humanitarian organisation in Gaza – closed all its schools when war broke out on October 7 in response to Hamas-led attacks on multiple targets in southern Israel, leaving some 1,250 dead and more than 250 hostage.

“We have converted the vast majority of them into shelters and at one point we had a million people staying in our schools,” Ms Touma explained, adding that of the victims of the latest school strikes, “many” were women and children.

Since the beginning of the war, more than half of UNRWA facilities – the vast majority of which are schools – have been hit.

“Some have been completely bombed and are out of action,” Ms Touma continued, adding that at least 600,000 children have seen their schools close since the war began.

Lost Generation

“In the case of UNRWA, most of them were used as shelters, but what this means is that if this war continues, we are about to lose a whole generation of children,” she continued.

“The longer children are out of school, the more difficult it becomes for them to catch up on their educational income; the greater the risk that they will fall prey to exploitation, such as child labour, child marriage, but also recruitment into armed groups and recruitment for combat. So it is in the interest of those children that we have to have a ceasefire.”

Responding to allegations that the schools were being used by Hamas fighters or their allies, the UNRWA official insisted that no UN facility should be used for military purposes. He then reiterated the Commissioner-General’s repeated calls for “independent investigations and inquiries into all of these very serious allegations.”

“Civilian infrastructure, including schools, including reception centres, including other facilities such as health care, clinics or hospitals, must be protected at all times, including in times of conflict,” Ms Touma insisted.

Rising toll

In a related development, the UN Agency for Sexual Reproduction, UN-FPA, warned that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is deteriorating and that ‘severe suffering’ is now the norm.

Citing Gaza health authorities, UNFPA said that nearly 38,000 Palestinians have now been killed and more than 87,000 woundedwith food, shelter, health and livelihoods all “critically low.”

The enclave is still home to some 1.9 million people who have been forcibly displaced – often repeatedly – ​​by the conflict and evacuation orders issued by the Israeli military.

Gazans are living in “tents, overcrowded shelters or on the streets, without basic necessities,” the UN agency said, pointing to widespread feelings of hopelessness among people “who have little prospect of returning home or ending the conflict.”

Rescue equipment blocked

“Serious obstacles” in ensuring humanitarian aid can reach those who need it continue to hamper the relief operation, the UNFPA situation update noted, citing “closed border crossings and bureaucratic obstacles hampering life-saving assistance”.

According to the UN agency, the problems associated with the breakdown of law and order in Gaza have also led to an increase in theft and violence, endangering humanitarian workers and their activities.

In addition, doctors continue to report rising numbers of preterm and low birth weight babies, “indicators of severe malnutrition exacerbated by stress and anxiety among pregnant women,” UNFPA said, while also highlighting the high risk of gender-based violence (GBV) faced by women and adolescent girls, “particularly those who are displaced, widowed or unaccompanied.”

Help successes

Despite the challenges, UNFPA has distributed essential sexual and reproductive health and GBV services in Gaza and the West Bank.

The UN agency and partners have also set up two maternal health units for emergency deliveries, provided menstrual hygiene products to thousands of women and girls, supported mobile health points and sent sexual and reproductive health teams to shelters.

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