As another school and shelter in Gaza is bombed, a UN spokesman breaks down in tears in a video interview

Chris Gunness, a United Nations Relief and Works Agency spokesperson broke down in tears while wrapping a TV interview with Al Jazeera Arabic about a lethal attack on a UN school that was sheltering 3,300 Palestinians in Gaza.

He also called upon ”the international community to take deliberate international political action to put an immediate end to the continuing carnage” in a statement on the UNRWA website:

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. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.

This is the sixth UN school and shelter to be attacked by Israeli forces. The UNRWA had given the exact coordinates of the school 17 times to the Israel army so they could avoid bombing the area.

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At least 1,361 Palestinians have been killed and more than 6,780 injured since Israel launched a massive offensive against the 40-kilometer long coastal strip on July 8. Israel has bombed schools, a playground, hospitals, shelters and refugee camps. Three in four people killed in Gaza were civilians. On July 28, Israel attacked the only power plant in Gaza, plunging the congested strip of 1.8 million people into darkness.

The United Nations agency UNRWA was running 245 schools with 225,000 students in Gaza, before the offensive began. As Israel forces bombs residential neighborhoods, tens of thousands have been made homeless and are forced to take refuge in the schools, many of which have become makeshift shelters.

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In the UNRWA statement Gunness continued to explain that his team visited the site of the latest bombing and called on the international community to take political action:

We have visited the site and gathered evidence. We have analysed fragments, examined craters and other damage. Our initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery that hit our school, in which 3,300 people had sought refuge. We believe there were at least three impacts. It is too early to give a confirmed official death toll. But we know that there were 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.

The precise location of the Jabalia Elementary Girls School and the fact that it was housing thousands of internally displaced people was communicated to the Israeli army seventeen times, to ensure its protection; the last being at ten to nine last night, just hours before the fatal shelling.

I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces.

This is the sixth time that one of our schools has been struck. Our staff, the very people leading the humanitarian response are being killed. Our shelters are overflowing. Tens of thousands may soon be stranded in the streets of Gaza, without food, water and shelter if attacks on these areas continue.

We have moved beyond the realm of humanitarian action alone. We are in the realm of accountability. I call on the international community to take deliberate international political action to put an immediate end to the continuing carnage.

The UNRWA was established in 1949 and provides assistance and protection to 5 million registered Palestine refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

Excessive restrictions from Israel in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank is why most of the world and the United Nations considers this territory “occupied” by Israel. This is Israel’s third military operation in Gaza in 6 years.

This article was written by Sahar Habib Ghazi and originally appeared on .


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