Hamas continues to hide weapons in UN schools
The last two nights have seen the most intense bombardments of the Gaza Strip since the offensive began three weeks ago. Palestinian health officials located in Gaza reported early on Wednesday that at least 15 people were killed when a United Nations school was bombed by the Israeli military.
At least 30 other people were killed as the Israeli military bombarded Jabaliya, a neighborhood of Gaza City, with airstrikes and tank shells throughout much of the night. This brings the death toll of the 23-day-long offensive to at least 1240 Palestinians and 56 Israelis. The Israel Defense Forces said that the military was investigating reports that a United Nations school had been bombed.
This is the second time that the Israeli military bombed a United Nations school during the offensive. Last week, 15 Palestinians were killed and another 200 were injured when a United Nations school in Beit Hanoun was bombed. The school’s playground was filled with families who were awaiting evacuation.
Israel denied responsibility for the deaths, claiming a single “errant” shell fired by its forces hit the school playground, which was empty at the time. However, according to testimonies that were gathered by United Nations staff, there was an initial shell that was followed “several others in the close vicinity of the school within a matter of minutes”.
UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, said on Tuesday that it had discovered a cache of rockets hidden inside one of its schools in Gaza and deplored those who had placed them there for placing civilians, mostly women and children, in harm’s way.
“This is yet another flagrant violation of the neutrality of our premises. We call on all the warring parties to respect the inviolability of UN property,” United Nations spokesman Chris Gunness said. Two similar discoveries were made last week.
Israel says that militants from Hamas and other organizations are launching rockets from the vicinity of UNRWA properties, essentially hiding themselves behind innocent civilians. Over 200,000 Gazans have taken shelter in United Nations schools and properties after Israel issued warnings for them to leave their homes as it was about to bomb them.
Since midnight, the Israeli military has reportedly targeted 75 sites, bringing the total since the begging of the conflict to 4100. Five mosques were included in the overnight targets, which the Israel Defense Force claimed housed tunnels hafts, weapons caches, and lookout posts.
Read more about the story at Al Jazeera.