On Wednesday, Israeli artillery shells hit a United Nations school in Gaza, which was functioning as a shelter for Palestinians who had been displaced from their homes due to the conflict between Israel and Hamas. As reported by The Guardian, “At least 15 people, mostly children and women, died when the school in Jabaliya refugee camp was hit by five shells during a night of relentless bombardment across Gaza. More than 100 people were injured.”
An analysis done by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, reported that the school was hit by Israeli artillery, which caused, “multiple civilian deaths and injuries including of women and children and the UNRWA guard who was trying to protect the site. These are people who were instructed to leave their homes by the Israeli army.”
On Thursday, The United States spoke out in condemnation of the shelling. Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the White House, released a statement saying, “The United States condemns the shelling of a UNRWA school in Gaza, which reportedly killed and injured innocent Palestinians, including children, and UN humanitarian workers.”
“We are extremely concerned that thousands of internally displaced Palestinians who have been called on by the Israeli military to evacuate their homes are not safe in UN designated shelters in Gaza,” said the statement. “We also condemn those responsible for hiding weapons in United Nations facilities in Gaza.”
The statement concluded, “All of these actions, and similar ones earlier in the conflict, are inconsistent with the UN’s neutrality. This violence underscores the need to achieve a cease-fire as soon as possible.”
As reported by RT, shortly after the White House condemned the shelling of the UN school in Gaza, the Pentagon pledged to “supply the Israeli military with new ammunition to further their campaign on the war-ravaged city.”
The supplies that will be sent to Israel include “120mm mortar rounds and 40mm ammunition for grenade launchers,” which will come from a “stockpile the United States keeps in Israel, which is worth more than $1 billion,” according to CNN.
On Tuesday, a third arsenal of rockets was located at a UN school in Gaza. UNRWA reported that during a regular inspection of its premises, rockets were found that had been “hidden in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip.” The report stated that, “As soon as the rockets were discovered, UNRWA staff were withdrawn from the premises, and so we are unable to confirm the precise number of rockets.”
Canada’s Foreign Minister, John Baird, claimed that not only had rockets been found in UN facilitates, they had also been returned to Hamas by UN officials.
“I was appalled to hear reports, one as recent as today, of stockpiles of rockets in a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza,” said Baird. “Even more alarming were reports that in the first case, officials with the United Nations returned these weapons to Hamas, a listed terrorist organization, once Israeli officials discovered their location.”
The attack on the school was the sixth time that UNRWA premises have been hit in the three weeks since the war in Gaza began.
According to the Associated Press, Israel’s military attributed the shelling of the school to a return of fire, “after soldiers were targeted by mortar rounds launched from the vicinity of the school.”
The UN’s Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, spoke out saying the attack on the school was “unjustifiable,” and that it “demands accountability and justice.”
“I want to make it clear that the exact location of this elementary school has been communicated to the Israeli military authorities 17 times, as recently as last night, just a few hours before this attack,” sad Ki-moon. “They are aware of the coordinates and exact location of where these people are.”
The Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Pierre Krähenbühl, called the school shelling a “serious violation of international law by Israeli forces.”
“Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN-designated shelter in Gaza,” said Krähenbühl. “Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.“