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Children Among Dozens Killed in ‘Appalling’ Israeli Attack on UNRWA School

By Jake Johnson

Israeli forces on Thursday bombed a Gaza school run by the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, killing dozens of people including women and children.

The precise death toll from the Israeli strike on the school—which was sheltering displaced Palestinians—is unclear, but the communications director for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said she’s been informed that up to 45 people were killed.

Euronews reported that the nearby Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital “received at least 33 dead from the strike, including 14 children and nine women, according to hospital records and an Associated Press reporter at the hospital.”

Without offering any proof, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed a “Hamas compound” was “embedded inside” the school in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. The Israeli government has repeatedly asserted without evidence that a significant number of UNRWA employees are members of terrorist organizations.

“The terrorists directed terror from the area of the school while exploiting it and using it as a shelter,” the IDF said in a statement. “Several terrorists who planned to carry out terror attacks and promote terrorist activities against IDF troops in the immediate time frame were eliminated in the strike.”

Imran Khan, a senior correspondent for Al Jazeera, noted that the IDF “knew it was a U.N. school” and that “it is a place where displaced Palestinians have been staying.”

“Israelis are briefing local Israeli media, saying they suspected some of the people behind the October 7 attack on Israel were staying there. That’s language that we’ve heard a lot before,” Khan reported. “Right now, we’re in this kind of ‘he-said, she-said.’ The Israeli army is very clear, saying, ‘We believe that Hamas was in that school and in that refugee camp,’ but not providing any single shred of evidence.”

According toReuters, “two children were among the dead laid out” at Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital following Thursday’s strike. Mourners told the outlet that “the children had been killed along with their mother.”

“This is not war, it is destruction that words are unable to express,” said Abu Mohammed Abu Saif, the father of the two children.

The UNRWA school in Nuseirat was just the latest U.N. facility targeted by the Israeli military during its eight-month U.S.-backed assault on the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces have damaged or destroyed more than half of Gaza’s infrastructure, including all of its universities.

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib said Thursday that “the devastating airstrike on a UNRWA school in Gaza is an appalling and unacceptable act of violence.”

“All parties must respect civilian infrastructure,” Lahbib added. “This tragedy reminds us of the urgency to end the violence.”

Advocacy groups in the U.S. condemned the Biden administration’s ongoing complicity in Israel’s attacks on Gaza civilians in the wake of Thursday’s strike.

“There aren’t any excuses or words left to describe the horrors the U.S. government continues to fund and enable,” Justice Democrats wrote on social media. “How many more war crimes will we witness every day before we hold Israel accountable for this genocide?”

Shortly before Israel’s military bombed the UNRWA school, peace activists disrupted a taping of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’ appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

“Stop the genocide!” one of the activists yelled. “Fifteen thousand children dead because of you!”

Jake Johnson is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.

6 June 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

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