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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid