BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli military bombed the Islamic University in Gaza early Saturday, causing extensive damage to one of Gaza's largest and most prominent institutions of higher education.
The Israeli military said in a statement that the target was a Hamas "facility that was used for research and development of weapon manufacturing" inside the university.
The Islamic University has been repeatedly targeted by Israel in the past, especially in the 2008-9 offensive when Israel destroyed 74 labs in a series of airstrikes.
At the time it gave the same justification for the attack, citing the existence of a Hamas research facility there.
The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, also known as the "Goldstone Report," disputed the Israeli justification, saying the facilities were "civilian, educational buildings and the Mission did not find any information about their use as a military facility or their contribution to a military effort that might have made them a legitimate target in the eyes of the Israeli armed forces."
The PLO says that 137 schools have been damaged in the 26-day Israeli assault, including a number of strikes on UN schools serving as shelters that have killed dozens.