On Saturday, a United Nations official reported that within a span of less than a day, two of their schools in northern Gaza were targeted and hit. A News Media confirmed through a video from one of the sites that numerous people were found lifeless and severely wounded.
Officials from Palestine disclosed on Saturday that a significant number of casualties and injuries occurred due to an Israeli strike on a U.N.-administered school in Jabaliya, north of Gaza City, which was sheltering children and adults. The Israeli military acknowledged awareness of “an incident” in Jabaliya and stated it was under investigation.
A disturbing video confirmed by The Times showcased the aftermath at the school, Al-Fakhura, managed by UNRWA, the U.N. organization supporting Palestinian refugees, revealing numerous bodies amidst extensive wreckage.
Philippe Lazzarini, the director of UNRWA, expressed on social media on Saturday his shock upon receiving “terrifying images & videos of a large number of fatalities and injuries” at an UNRWA school housing thousands in Gaza’s northern region.
Lazzarini also mentioned another attack on an UNRWA school in northern Gaza, housing over 4,000 individuals, marking the second such incident in under a day. He emphasized the urgent need to halt these atrocities.
An UNRWA spokesperson referred to a later incident at the Zeitoun school in Gaza City, which was struck around 3 p.m. on Friday.
As of Saturday, UNRWA was uncertain about the exact casualty figures at both schools. Since an Israeli evacuation order on October 12 for northern Gaza, UNRWA has been unable to directly assess its facilities there. At that time, nearly 160,000 displaced individuals were sheltered in 57 of its schools. With the ongoing Israeli offensive, schooling has been suspended, and educational institutions have been repurposed as shelters.
The Israeli military claims its heavy bombardment targets Hamas, the ruling group in Gaza. They allege Hamas’s command centers and depots are integrated within and beneath civilian areas, including apartment blocks, mosques, and markets. Israeli officials have labeled these sites as legitimate military targets, asserting efforts to minimize civilian casualties.
On Saturday, the Israeli military reaffirmed its commitment to international law, including measures to reduce civilian harm. It had earlier reported intense fighting in Jabaliya, claiming the area housed the command center of Hamas’s northern Gaza brigade.
The National Security Council’s spokeswoman, Adrienne Watson, indicated that the White House was in discussions with U.N. and Israeli officials regarding the school attack. Watson stated that any damage to a U.N. shelter is unacceptable, acknowledging reports of civilian casualties in at least one UNRWA school in northern Gaza.
The civilian impact of Israel’s actions in Gaza has drawn significant criticism from U.N. officials, who have called for an immediate cease-fire, and has incited anger among Israel’s Middle Eastern neighbors. Qatar’s Foreign Ministry condemned the destruction at Al-Fakhura school, accusing Israel of grossly violating international law, and urged a U.N. inquiry into attacks on hospitals and schools in Gaza.
The Ministry warned that the international community’s silence on the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by the occupiers against Palestinians could worsen tensions, expand violence, and lead to further instability.
Gaza’s health ministry reported that Al-Fakhura school had been previously targeted by an Israeli airstrike in early November, resulting in 15 deaths and 70 injuries.