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

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid