Dozens Killed as Israeli Forces Strike Al-Fakhoora School in Northern Gaza

Israeli air attacks have hit a United Nations-run school in northern Gaza.

Israeli air raids have killed dozens people at the al-Fakhoora School, run by the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.

At least 50 people have been killed in the bombing, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said on Saturday.

Many hundreds of people are believed to have taken shelter there, fleeing the non-stop Israeli attacks. The attack is believed to have taken place in the early hours of the morning.

Tamara Alrifai, a spokesperson for UNRWA, told Al Jazeera that she has seen the “devastating” footage coming out of Jabalia in the aftermath of the bombing, but has not been able to directly contact her colleagues on the ground.

Alrifai said over half of the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million population has been forced on an “exodus” south after an Israeli order to evacuate to make room for its ground operations, something that is reminicent of previous forced displacements.

“I’m still waiting from reports directly from my colleagues in Gaza but what we’re seeing is another one of these horrific incidents, where civilans, people who sought shelter in a protected UN building are paying the price,” she said.

“Many people who stayed in the north stayed in the UNRWA school because they thought that they would have a bit of safety there, but nowhere is safe in Gaza, not even our schools,” she said. “Unfortunately, people flee into our buildings with the blue flag looking for protection, but 70 of our buildings have been hit, so we ourselves are not protected.”

Alrifai said excluding the strike on Saturday, 66 people have been confirmed to be killed while taking shelter in UN-run facilities.

“Dead bodies are everywhere and medial teams are trying to evacuate the wounded,” said Al Jazeera correspondent Tareq Abou Azzoum of Saturday’s strike, reporting from Gaza.

He said with the ongoing fighting amid Israel’s ground offensive into northern Gaza, many Palestinians have been forced to flee to UN-run schools in the vicinity of the Indonesian Hospital for protection.

“People taking shelter at al-Fakhoura school in Jabalia refugee camp, many with medical issues, thought they could find shelter from the violence there. But the Israeli army seems to be sending a message: Flee to the south of the Gaza Strip,” he said.

The Jabalia refugee camp has been a target for Israeli strikes for weeks, as it claims it houses Palestinian fighters.

The deadly bombing campaign of the camp has been ongoing despite condemnations by the UN and from regional governments.

The Israeli army has also repeatedly hit schools and UN-run facilities. Its war on Gaza has killed over 12,000 Palestinians so far, many of them children.

The al-Fakhoora school had also been previously hit by the Israeli army several times prior to the war. The school was a target for strikes in 2009, 2014 and earlier this month.

Al Jazeera’s Marwan Bishara said the school is like the “al-Shifa of schools” in Gaza as it has been repeatedly targeted by Israeli forces like the al-Shifa hospital, which has been a main target since the start of the war and under direct siege and raid for days.

“When you attack a school with such a concentration of people taking refuge in the school, you are sending a message that is more than, ‘I’m going after Hamas fighters here and there’. What it’s saying is, ‘I want people to be driven out, I want people to pay a price, I want people to die’.”

“There is nothing discriminate about the fact that a school that shelters thousands of people has been bombed from the air; that is meant to create damage, human loss, suffering and death,” he said.

Related Articles

Back to top button