Direct hit on UNRWA school kills three in Gaza

06 January 2009

6 January 2009

East Jerusalem

Three Gazans were killed last night in an UNRWA school -- Asma Elementary School in Gaza City – in an Israeli attack. They were among over four hundred people, who, earlier in the evening had fled their homes in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza and had been given refuge in the UNRWA school. The school was clearly marked as a United Nations installation. The three men, Husein Mahmoud Abed Al Malek Al Sultan aged 24, Abed Samir Ali Al Sultan 19, and Rawhi Jamal Ramadan Al Sultan 25, were killed at eleven thirty last night. The three men, all from the same family, were killed as they left the school toilet at eleven thirty last night when the school compound took a direct hit.

UNRWA is strongly protesting these killings to the Israeli authorities and is calling for an immediate and impartial investigation. Where it is found that international humanitarian law has been violated, those responsible must be held to account. Under international law, installations such as schools, health centres and UNRWA facilities should be protected from attack. Well before the current fighting, UNRWA had given to the Israeli authorities the GPS co-ordinates of all its installations in Gaza, including Asma Elementary School.

This tragic incident again illustrates the most urgent need for an end to the fighting. It also underlines the sad reality facing those fleeing the violence that unless there is a lasting ceasefire, there will remain pervasive risks to civilian lives in Gaza today.

For more information please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972-(0)54-240-2659
Office: +972-(0)2-589-0267

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972-(0)54-216-8295
Office: +972 (0)2-589-0724

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Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 56 million.

For more information, please contact:

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