News / Middle East

Explosion Hits UN-run School in Gaza

  • Palestinian children wounded after the shelling of a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip lay on the floor of an emergency room in Beit Lahiya, July 24, 2014.
  • A crater from an Israeli strike is seen in the yard of the U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • Palestinians evacuate a man medics said was wounded by Israeli shelling during an Israeli ground offensive east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • Palestinians search for victims under the rubble of a house that witnesses said was destroyed by an Israeli air strike east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • A Palestinian man looks through a window scarred with shrapnel from a neighbouring building that police said was hit by an overnight Israeli air strike, in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • Palestinians ride in a truck as they flee from Israeli shelling during an Israeli ground offensive east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • An Israeli tank moves through the morning mist near the Israel and Gaza border, July 24, 2014.
  • Israeli soldiers carry a wounded soldier to a helicopter near the Israel and Gaza border, July 24, 2014.
  • A general view of a mosque and a house that witnesses said were damaged by an Israeli air strike that killed two children, is seen in the northern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • Israeli soldiers carry the coffin of Sgt. Max Steinberg, during his funeral at the Mount Herzel military cemetery in Jerusalem, July 23, 2014.
VOA News

United Nations officials say they are outraged after an apparent Israeli shell slammed into a U.N.-run school in Gaza being used as a shelter from violence.

Fifteen people were killed, including children and U.N. staffers.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is "appalled."  U.N. officials cannot yet verify it was an Israeli shell that hit the school. But they say Israel had been given the "precise coordinates" of the location of the building.

Israel's army admits that its forces were fighting Hamas militants near the school. But the Israelis did not say if it was one of their shells that hit the building. They again accused Hamas militants of using women and children as human shields.

U.N. spokesman Chris Gunness of the agency providing aid to Palestinians says civilians have suffered quite enough in what he calls an "appalling conflict."

The U.N. secretary-general said he was “appalled” by the carnage at a U.N. school in the northern Gaza Strip, where explosions killed and injured many women and children.  

Ban Ki-moon was in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil on Thursday - part of his shuttle diplomacy efforts in the region to reach a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants - when he spoke of the attack.

Ban strongly condemned the shelling, which also killed U.N. staff members. He said circumstances of the attack were still unclear.

"I'm telling to the parties - all the Israelis and Hamas and Palestinians - that it's morally wrong to kill your own people," he said. "The whole world has been watching, is watching with great concern. You must stop fighting and enter into dialogue. Whatever grievances you may have, this is wrong. Why are you continuing to kill people? There are many other ways to resolve this issue without killing each other. I'm angry about what they are doing."

Various reports

In New York, the secretary-general's deputy spokesman, Farhan Haq, said all the facts were not available in the immediate aftermath of the attack. “At this stage, we do not know - and I cannot verify - who attacked the compound.”

The school served as a shelter for hundreds of Palestinians fleeing the Israeli military's Gaza offensive.

A spokesman for the U.N. relief agency said it had tried in vain to arrange an evacuation of civilians from the school with the Israeli army, and noted reports of Hamas rockets falling in the area at the same time.

Gaza police said the school was hit by an Israeli shelling.

The Israeli military said its troops were fighting gunmen from Hamas, which runs Gaza, in the area and that it was investigating the incident.

The United Nations Relief and Works agency spokesman serving the Palestinian territories, Chris Gunness, said via Twitter that his agency had given the Israeli army "precise coordinates" of the shelter.

The Israeli Defense Forces released a statement saying "the Hamas terrorists in the area of Beit Hanoun" were "using civilian infrastructure and international symbols as human shields."

Watch related video report by VOA's Scott Bobb

Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700i
X
Scott Bobb
July 24, 2014 8:58 PM
Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.


Murky situation

The U.N. chief has called repeatedly on both sides to avoid attacking U.N. premises. More than 110,000 Palestinians have sought shelter in U.N. schools and other facilities since the fighting began.

Israel accuses Hamas militants of deliberately positioning their rocket launchers in Gaza’s densely populated residential areas, raising the risk of civilian casualties when Israel fires back.

In the last few days, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA] has found two separate weapons caches in facilities that it operates -- one in a vacant school and the other in a school where the rockets subsequently disappeared before authorities could seize them.

The U.N. condemned the incidents, saying they are unacceptable and that those responsible are turning the schools into potential military targets and endangering the lives of innocent persons seeking shelter there.

State Department concern

In Washington, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said the United States is “deeply saddened and concerned” about the incident and the rising civilian death toll. She urged both parties to intensify efforts to protect civilians, end the violence and reach a cease-fire agreement.

"This also underscores the need to end the violence and to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and enduring resolution to the crisis in Gaza as soon as possible.

"U.N. facilities in Gaza are sheltering more than 140,000 Palestinians, including many innocent children, and must remain safe, neutral sanctuaries for fleeing civilians," said Psaki. "We call on all parties to protect these facilities from the conflict and we have condemn those responsible for hiding weapons in United Nations facilities in Gaza. We urge all parties to respect civilian life and comply with international humanitarian law."

  • Palestinian children wounded after the shelling of a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip lay on the floor of an emergency room in Beit Lahiya, July 24, 2014.
  • A crater from an Israeli strike is seen in the yard of the U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • Palestinians evacuate a man medics said was wounded by Israeli shelling during an Israeli ground offensive east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • Palestinians search for victims under the rubble of a house that witnesses said was destroyed by an Israeli air strike east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • A Palestinian man looks through a window scarred with shrapnel from a neighbouring building that police said was hit by an overnight Israeli air strike, in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • Palestinians ride in a truck as they flee from Israeli shelling during an Israeli ground offensive east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • An Israeli tank moves through the morning mist near the Israel and Gaza border, July 24, 2014.
  • Israeli soldiers carry a wounded soldier to a helicopter near the Israel and Gaza border, July 24, 2014.
  • A general view of a mosque and a house that witnesses said were damaged by an Israeli air strike that killed two children, is seen in the northern Gaza Strip, July 24, 2014.
  • Israeli soldiers carry the coffin of Sgt. Max Steinberg, during his funeral at the Mount Herzel military cemetery in Jerusalem, July 23, 2014.

Intense fighting

As Israeli strikes in Gaza continued Thursday and rockets fired by Hamas-led fighters in the enclave landed in Israel, both sides maintained their conditions for a cease-fire.

Palestinian health officials say more than 730 of their people have been killed since Israel began its campaign to halt Hamas rocket fire on July 8. Thirty-two Israeli soldiers and two Israeli citizens have died.

The Israeli military reported multiple rockets fired from Gaza on Thursday, including several that were said to have been intercepted by its Iron Dome missile defense system.

After meeting [Thursday] with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas militants are using Palestinian civilians as human shields and complained Israel is being criticized for defending itself.

"This use of human shields is extraordinarily cynical, it is grotesque. It is inhuman. But what is equally grotesque is that Israel was condemned at the Human Rights Council," said Netanyahu.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal denied Wednesday the charge of human shields. During a news conference in Qatar he said Hamas would accept a temporary humanitarian truce to allow aid to reach civilians in Gaza. But he said it would not accept any agreement that did not end the suffering of Gaza residents.

Mashaal said, "Everyone wants us to accept a cease-fire quickly, but then what? They say we then should negotiate our demands. We reject this idea. We rejected it on the first day, and we will reject it in the future."

Hamas said Israel must lift its blockade of Gaza and cease all aggression as part of any cease-fire.

Israel says it wants Gaza to be de-militarized.  

Kerry in Cairo

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Cairo as he continues to push for a cease-fire solution. On Wednesday he had met with Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon. While he made no comments after those talks, he said earlier in the day that "some progress" had been made.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the school attack underscores the need to end the violence.

Kerry will stay in Cairo into Friday trying to broker a cease-fire. But a State Department official says the secretary is not in the Mideast indefinitely, and will determine if there is a willingness to stop the fighting.

Hamas leaders say they will not agree to a cease-fire unless Israel and Egypt end their blockades of Gaza.

Israel wants the rocket fire to stop and to destroy a network of cross-border tunnels used by militants.

Airlines Resume Flights to Tel Aviv

U.S. airlines resumed flights in and out of Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport on Thursday, after two days of cancellations brought on by the conflict in Israel and Gaza.

Delta, United and U.S. Airways all announced the decision to carry out scheduled flights Thursday.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration removed restrictions into Israel late Wednesday, and the European Aviation Safety Agency lifted its restrictions into Israel on Thursday.

Some European airlines, including Lufthansa and Swiss Air, are suspending flights into Israel for another 24 hours.

The FAA says it carefully reviewed new information along with the measures Israel is taking to mitigate potential aviation risks.

The bans went into effect Tuesday after rocket fire from Gaza hit near the airport outside Tel Aviv.

VOA's Scott Bobb contributed to this report from Jerusalem, and Margaret Besheer contributed to this report from the United Nations headquarters in New York.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: hmp49 from: Asheville, NC
July 24, 2014 8:08 AM
Hamas demanding the blockade end before accepting a ceasefire is is like the Japanese demanding the US unconditionally surrender after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Israel did not look for this conflict, but having been forced into it, Israel is not anxious for it to end without destroying the Hamas rocket and tunnel assets.

In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
July 24, 2014 9:35 PM
Winning a battle does not mean winning a war, Winning a war dose not mean winning people's heat and mind. When you cannot win people's heat and mind there are more and more wars to come. Some Israel is carrying out his secret policy, that is killing off all Palestine people so no one can wage war against him.

     

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid