30 Jul 2014

Inside the Gaza UN school ‘shelled by Israel’

I’ve just been to the UNRWA school in Jabalia, where 15 people were killed by what appears to be an Israeli shell as they were sheltering in a classroom.

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The school is a refugee centre for people displaced from the area between here and the border maybe 2km away, which is a battlefield. Four shells hit the camp: it is bracketed within the area of the four impacts.


Tanks or artillery guns can hit anything they want to, accurately, so it’s hard not to conclude that the tank was firing at the camp, or that the Israelis miscalculated.

Read more: Gaza live – UN school suffers deadly shelling

Either way I saw the results in the Jabalia hospital. A 15-year-old boy lies with his right leg in plaster but the chief nurse has already told me it is going to be amputated.

“I was hiding in a classroom and the shell hit,” he tells me.

While we are there, more casualties arrive. In a white shroud, Odai Ijneed, 18, is ferried chaotically from ambulance to the morgue. His dad leans in to kiss him before he’s slammed into the metal cupboard.

The Israelis shelled the market, he says, Odai was visiting his grandma there. I tell him I’m sorry.

“Don’t be sorry,” he says. “Why don’t you just go back to Britain and tell your government to stop supporting the Israelis when they kill our kids?”

All modern military systems work off precise co-ordinates. UNWRA say they have given the precise co-ordinates of the school to the Israelis, whose tanks fire on the dead ground just inside the border.

Read more: what it feels like to be under Israeli fire

When politicians (Ed Miliband opposes Israeli action) say their support for Israel is unshakeable, it can be translated on the ground into less of an imperative to avoid the military carelessness that I have seen this morning. They will be told “we don’t target civilians”.


This is nonsense: the operation against Jabalia is killing civilians, and as far as I can see the military front line is exactly the same as when I crossed it, on Sunday. The only way I can see to avoid killing civilians is to stop shelling Jabalia.

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