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Dozens feared dead as Israel shells UN shelter in Beit Hanoun
Published Thursday 24/07/2014 (updated) 25/07/2014 19:07
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A Palestinian man rushes a woman, who medics said was wounded by
an Israeli air strike, into a hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza
Strip July 24, 2014. (REUTERS/file)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A spokesman for the UN's Palestine refugee agency UNRWA in Gaza Adnan Abu Hasana said on Thursday that they had received no warning before Israeli forces shelled a Beit Hanoun school that was serving as a shelter earlier in the afternoon.

The attack killed at least 17 and injured more than 200 of the displaced civilians who had taken shelter there, the fourth time in two days that Israeli forces have bombed schools serving as shelters in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The UNRWA spokesman said in a statement that the majority of the displaced people at the shelter were elderly people, women, and children.

"We told the army several times to warn us because we know that the school is located in a dangerous place. We told them to give us enough time so we can evacuate women and UNRWA team, but they did not."

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness tweeted in response to the attack that the "Precise co-ordinates of the UNRWA shelter in Beit Hanoun had been formally given to the Israeli army."

He added: "Over the course of the day, UNRWA tried 2 coordinate with the Israeli Army a window for civilians 2 leave & it was never granted."

A local radio station quoted an eyewitness as saying that immediately before the shelling, a man who introduced himself as a Red Cross official had asked displaced people taking shelter at the school to gather in the yard because they would be evacuated to another shelter.

An UNRWA official intervened when he saw people gathering and argued that there had been no coordination with UNRWA, telling them to go back to their rooms. During the argument, Israeli artillery shells started to hit the school.

Palestinian militant groups Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Resistance Committees described the attack on the school as an "ugly crime" for which the Israelis "will pay."

Spokesman for the Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra said that ambulances have started to evacuated victims to three hospitals in the northern Gaza Strip in addition to al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City.

The Israeli military said in a statement around 5:30 p.m. that it was in the midst of combat in the area of Beit Hanoun with Hamas and that the group was using "civilian infrastructure and international symbols as human shields."

It also claimed that over the course of afternoon, several rockets launched by the group had landed in the Beit Hanoun area, and that the incident was under review.

An eyewitness said that displaced people were sitting in the front yard when Israeli artillery shells started to hit them. Another eyewitness said they saw five shells hitting the school.

Earlier in the day, Gunness said on Twitter that three teachers for the UN agency had been killed, marking the first deaths among UNRWA workers.

"The 1st UNRWA fatalities in #Gaza; 3 teachers. 2 women, 1 man killed along with family members by incoming fire. 2 women while in residences," Gunness tweeted.

"Losing a colleague is hard to bear. Losing a colleague in these circumstances is unbearable."

During Israel's 2008-9 offensive on Gaza, Israeli tanks shelled an area outside an UNRWA school in Jabaliya refugee camp, killing 42 people, all but one of them civilians.

'Stop bombing civilians'

The attacks brought Thursday's total number of deaths to at least 80, as dozens of Palestinians have been killed as Israel continued its bombardment from land, air, and sea.

More than 760 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched its attack on the Gaza Strip 17 days ago, the majority since the ground began last week.

Gaza-based rights groups have said that the vast majority of those killed are civilians, including nearly 200 children.

International medical organization Doctors without Borders called on Israel to "stop bombing civilians trapped in the sealed-off Gaza Strip, and to respect the safety of medical workers and health facilities" on Monday, as it said that the majority of those arriving in emergency rooms where its doctors were working were women and children.

"While official claims that the objective of the ground offensive is to destroy tunnels into Israel, what we see on the ground is that bombing is indiscriminate and that those who die are civilians," said Nicolas Palarus a field coordinator for the group in Gaza.

The group also said that Israel had directly targeted an ambulance with an air strike, despite the fact that they had been guaranteed movement.

A recent airstrike hit a residential block in al-Zahraa in the central Gaza Strip and a house belonging to Nofal family in the Al-Nasr neighborhood in Gaza City.

Five Palestinians have been killed in the most recent Israeli attacks across the Strip, al-Qidra said in a statement.

Earlier, 23-year-old Isam Faysal and 13-year-old Amir Adel Siyam were killed by an Israeli raid on Rafah.

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Abdul-Aziz Nur Addin was killed by an airstrike on a market in Shujaiyya. The Ministry of Health announced earlier that 19-year-old Saer Audah Shamali was killed in Shujaiyya.

Earlier on Thursday, four bodies were pulled from the rubble of buildings in Khuzaa, where dozens were killed in heavy Israeli shelling over night.

The bodies were later identified as Rasmi Abu Reida, Muhammad Abu Yousif, Ahmad Qudeih and Rami Qudeih.

Israeli airstrikes also killed seven Palestinians in western Kkhan Younis. Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Al-Qidra said that an airstrike killed Ahmad Abdul-Karim, Ahmad Hasan and Muhammad Ismail Khader there.

He added that Ahmad al-Mashhadi and Ahmad Khadir were killed in another raid on Khan Younis.

Earlier, he announced that bodies of Anas Akram Skafi, 18, and his twin brother Saad were removed from rubble in Shujaiyya, the site of the killing of nearly 70 Palestinians in one day over the weekend.

Emergency teams on Thursday also managed to remove the body of a dead woman, identified as Alal Khalil Abu Ayda, and three injured people from the rubble of a home belonging to the al-Bardini family which Israeli missiles demolished earlier in the city of al-Zahraa in the central Gaza Strip.

Al-Qidra said earlier that five Palestinian men were killed by two separate Israeli airstrikes on a motorcycle and a tuk-tuk (auto-rickshaw) in Abasan al-Kabira east of Khan Younis.

Medical sources identified four of the victims as Nabil Shihdah Qudeih, Nadir Suleiman Qudeih, Bakir Fathi Qudeih, and Ismail Hasan Abu Rjeila.

Two children were injured in Gaza City after an Israeli airstrike hit home of al-Ghusein family.

Earlier, a man was injured as a result of an Israeli airstrike on home of Saadi Daloul in Salah al-Din Street in the central Gaza Strip.
1 ) JoeFattal / USA
24/07/2014 16:23
I believe Israel is looking for another front to relieve them from hitting too many civilians in Gaza. They have done the same with Hezbollah in Lebanon. When Hezbollah were ahead on the ground and from their rockets Israel used their airforce to bomb Beirut hoping that maybe Syria or Egypt get in the fight. The same in Gaza, Israel is probably pushing either Iran, Hezbollah or even Assad in Syria to get involve.

2 ) Sarah / The Netherlands
24/07/2014 16:23
Zionists do the same every "war". I'm not surprised, are you?

3 ) Tibi / Tubas
24/07/2014 16:36
It Was A War Crime, for Hamas to store it's rockets in the UN shelter, &
It Was NOT A War Crime, for Israel to shell these Hamas rocket stores, or munitions dumps, regardless of how many civilians are killed in a strike !!

4 ) Amos / US
24/07/2014 17:07
Shame on the world for turning there eyes away once again just as they did during the holocaust the only difference is the Palestinians have receiving Israel's barbaric massacre, genocide and ethnic cleansing for 66 years so far. Disgusting, disgraceful and shameful!

5 ) Levi / USA
24/07/2014 17:15
Are UN/UNRWA locations still called shelters instead of bunkers and Hamas command centers? Someone needs updating their records and get new glasses.

6 ) Arnold / Canada
24/07/2014 18:51
Broken telephone. The UNWRA seems to have dropped the ball on this one. UNWRA was given advance warning as they were about to get any civilians out. They took way too long or someone forget to co-ordinate the evacuation.

7 ) JoeFattal / USA
24/07/2014 18:54
Exactly what's Mr. Wedeman said, a CNN correspondent. Israel tell the civilians to go there, they go, and Israel hit the area giving us the excuse that Hamas store their rockets there. I thought their intelligence tell them that no weapons were found in that facility, unless its a trap which I believe it is. Israel is losing the war, Hamas rockets are still flying above so Israel going to turn their frustration on the civilians.

8 ) Rosanne / United States
24/07/2014 18:59
Israel is indiscriminately killing civilians in order to put pressure on Hamas to stop the rockets. I do not believe that Hamas is shooting rockets from UN schools and hospitals as they continue to claim. This is very upsetting. Hamas wants rights for the Palestinians and that is not what Israel wants. In the West Bank there has been no resistance such as in the Gaza and Israel still builds settlements and controls what the people of the West Bank have. It is a crazy conflict!

9 ) Yehudit / Jamaica
24/07/2014 19:01
Gazan's irresponsible self destructive activity brought them to the situation where there is no way out except of strong self criticism and becoming the first to openly recognize the State of Israel and cooperate with It. For the mutual benefit of the people, instead they are pushed more and more into the abyss by the so called critics of Israel, who tried to keep the Gaza people in their severe delusional state, about their "right" for the Land of Israel.

10 ) Lukman / Ghana
24/07/2014 19:18
We should stop fighting over who created the world and fight against those who are destroying it.

11 ) Levi / USA
24/07/2014 19:32
Maybe Hamas barbarians themselves killed those kids and make a lot of fuss about them now...?

12 ) Musa Pars / Lebanon
24/07/2014 19:47
probably it was the rockets underneath unwra that exploded

13 ) Billy Bragg / UK
24/07/2014 20:22
It's inevitable and a tragedy, but these hostages are paying such a high price when the schools and it's environs are being used as defensive position by the Hamas Islamists. Who prevent the children and UNWRA workers escaping to the secret tunnels and shafts leading into Hamas’ subterranean complex.

14 ) Sara / Great Britain
24/07/2014 20:30
HAMAS rockets were also fired in the Beit Hanoun area. Israel is trying to stop Hamas firing rockets, but HAMAS will not so Israel has to keep fighting back to defend itself. Innocent Palestinian adults and children are being USED by HAMAS as HUMAN SHIELDS.
Israel will stop fighting when HAMAS stops firing rockets.but HAMAS has said it will not stop until all its demands are met.

15 ) Anil / India
24/07/2014 20:35
Stop Israeli terrorism in Gaza and the occupied territories. This terrorism is unfortunately backed by the super terrorist state of America.

16 ) Maureen / Australia
24/07/2014 20:42
Read what Zionist Herzl suggested and it can be understood exactly why Israeli military junta refused a window of opportunity to evacuate civillians from a UN school and then bomb the school! No gas chambers available for Zionazis to commit their genocide of the innocent so they substitute a UN school packed with Palestinian civillians! Israeli politicians threatened "greater holocaust" in Gaza long ago! Who can blame Hamas for endeavoring to defend their people?

17 ) Hadeil Abdelfattah / United States of SHAME
24/07/2014 21:15
When will this madness end? Absolutely nothing is sacred!!! This is not a war. A war by definition is two armed bodies. Here we have armed bodies and dead bodies. Murderers! Murderers! You will be held accountable. Your "defensive" tactics are nothing but offensive ambushes of innocent people. What do you think you are creating? What do you think will happen? The world will not sit in silence anymore. Your tyranny will fall along with the APARTHEID that you have created!

18 ) Stan Squires / Canada
24/07/2014 21:25
I am from Vancouver,Canada and I wanted to say that the UN should be condemning Israel for war crimes and genocide against the people of Gaza instead of saying that Israel 'may'have committed war crimes against the people off Gaza.Israel did commit war crimes against the People of Gaza and everyone is sure of that except the UN. The World Court in the Hague should be charging the Israeli gov. with war crimes against the People of Gaza.What is it waiting for?

19 ) Josh / USA
24/07/2014 21:33
Why does no one charge the Israeli with genocide and other war crimes?

20 ) ShaHaNa / US
24/07/2014 22:03
Stop Firing Rockets and if you cant stop firing rockets stop using Hospitals, Mosques Schools and the UN and place to fire from, If not this will continue it is actually that simple.

21 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
24/07/2014 23:03
No proof yet that it was Israeli fire. Maan readers should know that out of the 2000 rockets Hamas and PIJ fired at Israel, at least 300 fell short, most blowing up in Gaza. There is a good possibility that this disaster was caused by a Hamas rocket. If you watched Israel CH2 news last week, you saw a homemade Grad rocket suddenly flame out and nosedive into the Jabaliya area where it blew up - with unknown results. Hamas, of course, always denies when its rockets kill Gazans. Many of them.

22 ) Eleanor van der Hoest / United Kingdom
24/07/2014 23:10
Israel has surely lost all credibility by deliberately bombing UN facilities that people used as shelter and so many children killed, still blaming everything on Hamas! Stop the killing, just stop! You have the means to bring this to an end.

23 ) Abdul / India
24/07/2014 23:46
Israel is a shame to the world.they are deliberately killing women&children,blame Hamas for it.What a professional lier!we must boycott israeli products as a sign of protest.

24 ) some one / some where
25/07/2014 00:15
did you warn them when they hide rocket in school and why did you return it back to them you deserve it then

25 ) JoeFattal / USA
25/07/2014 05:36
@8) Rosanne / United States You are very correct. That's what we see right now. Bunch of thugs getting even on helpless civilians to pressure Hamas to accept an unconditional ceasefire. I knew Israel didn't know any better, but I didn't know they can go that low. And the longer this conflict last, the more it will expose Israel and their cowardly attack on civilians, women and children.

26 ) Bodhisattva / USA
25/07/2014 05:36
Israel gave DAYS LONG warnings before beginning this operation against TERRORISTS who use WOMEN and CHILDREN as shields. The Arabs have adopted a culture that glorifies death so it is no wonder that death visits them often. Israel has offered peace and the Arabs keep attacking instead - they brought this on themselves. It is even possible these shells were fired by Hamas or other terrorists, not Israel, but Hamas uses U.N. structures to hide weapons and fighters so they are legitimate targets.

27 ) ian / australia
25/07/2014 08:20
#3 "It Was A War Crime, for Hamas to store it's rockets in the UN shelter...blah blah blah." Dunno who you are 'Tibi' or where you're from (though I guarantee it's not Tubas) only that you're a nasty troll reading from some guide to hasbara crib sheet like the Israel Project's Global Language Dictionary. But think about it. Shouldn't "human shields" work? Wouldn't a decent army DECLINE to fire on an enemy (or its stockpiles) KNOWING innocent people would be killed? Warned or not

28 ) ian / australia
25/07/2014 08:21
(contd.) (more often not), by leaflet, text message or "roof knock", your nasty argument just exposes a vicious army (and state) WILLING to slaughter captive civilians, including children, for whatever small incremental gains it thinks it might make...and rationalise it with cynical talking points like YOURS or florid formulations like Golda Meir's truly putrid epigram about who she can and cannot forgive.

29 ) Rachamim Dwek / Israel
25/07/2014 14:29
Considering how the UN itself has found large rocket and missile caches in two UNRWA schools it goes without saying that UNRWA schools have been coopted by Gazan Terrorists. Even in this article a UNRWA official admitted that terroridts were operating all around the school that was hit, "We told the army several times to warn us because we know that the school is in a dangerous place." War sucks, people die, that is life. If HAMAS attacks Israel it is HAMAS that caused these deaths.

30 ) Mel / USA
25/07/2014 15:35
Wow Zionist Israel!You're going down another SO DARK TUNNEL of inhumanity.Your state-sponsored evil,cruel,unusual,indecent,degrading punishment & BLATANT war crimes will be your END! No-one will come to your side to help because,you,Israel,are alienating ALL GOOD PEOPLE away,with your racist hatred of Palestine,&BIGOTRY!Which means you HATE US TOO!Everytime you slaughter non-Jews in Palestine,you OFFEND US TOO!Christians,Muslims,Jews,athiests etc,WORLD WIDE.And you can't survive,W/OUT"others"

31 ) EconomicHostage / USA
25/07/2014 19:46
Funny thing about these attacks on so called weapons or rocket stores allegedly in protected zones like hospitals or UN Schools. The rounds kill and devastate the people, but there is never any evidence that there were actually weapons stored there. I mean if you hit a large cache of bombs or rockets wouldn't there be massive explosions other then just the rounds used to murder, umm, errr, ahh I mean destroy those sites. Basically, its just pure and simple terror.

32 ) D Cook / United States
25/07/2014 23:53
Thiis is not verified. Other reports say it was possibly a Hamas rocket. Also Israel warned these schools weeks ago after verifying they were being used as a weapons depot.

33 ) Craig / USA
26/07/2014 21:51
It is to be expected that Hamas will interfere with an impartial investigation to determine the nature of the explosion that occurred at the Beit Hanoun school. A thorough, unimpeded investigation would tell the world exactly what the source of the explosion was. The pictures I've seen of the impact site and the injuries sustained there show damages consistent with a small anti-personnel device such as a mortar or hand grenade, definitely not those of an F-16 missile or tank round.

34 ) Bilal / South Africa
27/07/2014 08:39
I see quite a few ignorant fools suggesting that Hamas has been storing artillery in UN shelters. That's just dumb. Surely if this were true then it would be blatantly obvious to the UN and the world that Hamas are carting heavy weapons out of the shelter? If his where the case then the UN should be condemned and taken to task for allowing this. I don't think that the UN would risk this considering that THEY are the ones that had given away land that didn't even belong to them, creating ISRAEL!

35 ) Sula M / USA
28/07/2014 04:00
Netanyahu is a criminal psychopath committing genocide, using his Army as his murder weapon. He wont stop by himself, what criminal psychopath ever does. His people, the Israelis, are a bunch Zionazi sheep, who need his lies to hide themselves from themselves. They know he's lying, and he knows he's lying. Israelis are all puffed up about killing defenseless little Gaza, but Germany, which pulverized them, has no trouble with them at all, probably because it has a military, not just a militia.
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