Palestinians take shelter in UN-run schools in Gaza

Thousands of Palestinians take shelter in UN-run schools in Gaza
2 min read
Families arrived at the schools in pick-up trucks, on donkeys and by foot as the death toll from the Israeli bombardment continues to rise.
Gazans are sheltering themselves in UN-run schools [AFP/Getty]

Palestinians grabbed their children and belongings and fled neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Gaza City on Friday, taking shelter in UN-run schools across the territory.

Families arrived at the schools in pick-up trucks, on donkeys and by foot, hauling pillows and pans, blankets and bread, as Israel unleashed a heavy barrage of artillery fire and airstrikes, killing a family of six in their home.

Israel said it was clearing a network of militant tunnels ahead of a possible ground invasion.

Gaza's health minister said 119 Palestinians, including 31 children have been killed, while more than 830 have been wounded in total during this recent escalation.

The toll on the Israeli side stands at eight dead, including a six-year-old boy and a soldier.

Read more: Why some activists feel the Labour Party has 'failed' Palestine

Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for UNRWA, said that the UN agency had not opened the schools to the displaced, but that thousands of Palestinians "broke into" 16 schools "out of fear of an Israeli ground operation".

Gaza health access under Israeli siege
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Hasna said the UNWRA was "evaluating the conditions" in the light of the ongoing pandemic and high infection rates in Gaza, adding that "those people have left everything behind" and needed basic supplies.

Mohammed Ghabayen was one of thousands who took shelter at a school with members of his family who huddled in a classroom.

He said his children had not yet had anything to eat since the family left their home the previous day and that there were several utilities missing in the school for it to be a functioning shelter.

"We don't know whether to take precautions against the coronavirus or the rockets", he added.

Israel has come under heavy international criticism for civilian casualties during three previous wars in Gaza, which is home to more than 2 million Palestinians.

It says Hamas is responsible for endangering civilians by placing military infrastructure in civilian areas and launching rockets from them.

However, on Tuesday, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor described Israel's current actions in the Strip as "utterly appalling" and said it was "acting without respecting the principle of proportionality".

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