Israel Deliberately Targets Schools and Hospitals in Gaza – UN
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : Yet another UN school, overcrowded with displaced Palestinians has been shelled by Israeli military on Sunday morning. Local officials in Gaza report that the latest incident killed at least ten and injured over thirty others. Overcrowded schools and hospitals are deliberately targeted. The health system in Gaza has collapsed warn UN officials.
About 10:30 Sunday morning, several explosions rocked the area around the United Nations Preparatory Boys School in Rafah in the Palestinian Gaza Strip. The school has, after the onset of the Israeli bombing campaign under the euphemism Protective Edge, been used as a UN shelter to house some of the nearly half a million Gaza residents who have been displaced by the Israeli aggression.
So far, nsnbc could not independently verify whether the shells were fired from the air, sea or land but it was independently confirmed that several shells landed near the entrance to the school. The shelling of the school on Sunday is on of many of its kind since the onset of the Israeli aggression. A UN spokesperson informed nsnbc via telephone that the United Nations has informed Israeli authorities exactly about which school are being used to house displaced Palestinians.
On Thursday, July 22 UNWRA carried out a regular inspection of one of its premises and discovered rockets, hidden in a vacant school. The UN agency reported that it immediately evacuated its staff from the premises and that they so were unable to confirm the precise number of rockets. The school where the UNWRA staff reportedly discovered the rockets is situated between to other UNWRA schools which currently accommodate 1,500 internally displaced persons.
The aid agency reports that it strongly, and unequivocally condemns the group or groups responsible for what it considers to be a flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law. The agency also stressed that this is the second time that rockets have been stored away in one of the UNWRA’s schools.
On Thursday, July 23, the UNWRA reports that its Maghazi Preparatory Girls School, in the Maghazi refugee camp, where approximately 300 internally displaced people had sought refuge, was struck by explosive ordnance, believed to have been fired by Israeli forces. The incident happened on Monday, at about 1655 hours, reported the UNWRA.
On Thursday, July 24, Israeli shells struck a UN school in Beit Hannoun, reportedly killing 15 and injuring others. On Wednesday, July 30, more than 12 were killed and scores injured when Israeli military shelled a UN school in Jabalia. So far, over 150 schools in the Gaza Strip have been targeted by Israeli shells.
The UN warns about an acute unfolding humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip as the latest ceasefire collapsed.
James W. Rawley, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory warned of an unfolding humanitarian and health disaster as medical services have become overwhelmed by the violence, the casualties, and lack of even basic medicines. He added that the fighting must end, immediately.
Medical staff in the Gaza Strip is increasingly bowing under for the immense stress, in addition to constant threats of violence. The UN reports that over 40 % of medical staff are even unable to reach their work places due to the ongoing violence. At least half of all public health primary care clinics are closed.
In addition, reports the UN, in the last 24 hours anonymous calls were made to staff at both the Najjar Hospital in Rafah and Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City warning of imminent attacks, causing major panic and chaos among patients and staff. Najjar Hospital was evacuated and remains closed due to fighting nearby.
Those hospitals and clinics which are still working are overwhelmed, reports the UN, adding that since 7 July, more that 8,000 people have reportedly been injured, many seriously. Critical supplies of medicines and disposables are almost depleted and damage and destruction of power supplies has left hospitals dependent on unreliable back-up generators.
The UN warns that the Al Shifa, the main referral hospital in the Gaza Strip, is inundated with casualties and people seeking safety in its grounds. “The ability to provide necessary healthcare is being severely compromised. This puts the lives of thousands of Palestinians in needless danger”, said Dr. Manenti.
The UN adds that this grave situation is compounded by the fact that an estimated 460,000 people have been displaced and are now living in overcrowded conditions in schools, with relatives or in makeshift shelters.
This, coupled with lack of inadequate water and sanitation, poses serious risks of outbreak of water-borne and communicable diseases. The UN quotes Mr. Turner as adding: “Hundreds of thousands of people are sheltering in terrible conditions, pushing UNRWA’s coping capacity to the edge”.
CH/L – nsnbc 03.08.2014