UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasana said, today, that Israeli forces shelled a Beit Hanoun school serving as a shelter, earlier in the afternoon. They had received no prior warning. Dozens are feared dead.According to Ma’an News Agency, the attack killed at least 17 people and injured more than 200, in what is now the fourth time in two days that Israeli forces have bombed schools serving as shelters in the besieged Gaza Strip.
‘We told the army several times to warn us because we know that the school is located in a dangerous place. We told them to give us enough time so we can evacuate women and UNRWA team, but they did not,’ Hasana said.
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness tweeted, following the attack: ‘Precise co-ordinates of the UNRWA shelter in Beit Hanoun had been formally given to the Israeli army.’
Earlier in the day, he tweeted that three teachers working for the UN agency had been killed, marking the first of casualites among UNRWA workers.
A report by RTE News reveals that UN spokesman Farhan Haq said separately that officials were trying to determine the number of UN staff member deaths, while stressing that it had not been established who had attacked the school.
An eyewitness was quoted by local radio as saying that, immediately before the shelling, a man introducing himself as a Red Cross official was asking people to gather in the yard because they would be evacuated to another shelter.
An UNRWA official saw people gathering asserted that there had been no coordination with UNRWA, and told them to go back to their rooms. During the argument which ensued, Israeli artillery shells began bombarding the school.
Abu Hasana said that the majority of the displaced people sheltering at the school were elderly people, women, and children.
During Israel’s 2008-9 assault on Gaza, Israeli tanks shelled an area outside an UNRWA school in Jabaliya refugee camp, during which 42 people were killed. All but one were civilians.