United Nations officials accused Israel of violating international law after artillery shells slammed into a school overflowing with evacuees Wednesday, an attack that Palestinian and U.N. officials said killed at least 20 people and wounded dozens as they slept.
It was one of the worst mass-casualty incidents of the three-week war. The building was the sixth U.N. school in the Gaza Strip to be rocked by explosions during the conflict.
Israeli officials said they were trying to determine who was responsible for the bloodshed. In past incidents, the Israeli military blamed errant rocket or mortar fire by Gaza militants for explosions at U.N. schools — or said the blasts were under investigation.
The U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which operated the school-turned-shelter in the Jabalya refugee camp, said it had gathered evidence, analyzed bomb fragments and examined craters after the attack. Its initial assessment was that three Israeli artillery shells hit the school where 3,300 people had sought refuge.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces,” said Pierre Krähenbühl, the UNRWA commissioner-general. “This is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “all available evidence points to Israeli artillery as the cause” of the pre-dawn attack.
Ban said Israel had received the precise GPS coordinates of the school from the United Nations 17 times.
Source: Washington Post