UNRWA Chief on Shelling of UNRWA Shelter in Jabalia

31 July 2014

In the early morning of 30 July, a UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school in Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip, which sheltered about 3,300 people, was shelled, resulting in multiple deaths and injuries.

Initial UNRWA investigations suggest that it was Israeli artillery that hit the school. In his statement, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms."

UNRWA investigating teams have visited the site and gathered evidence. They have analysed fragments and examined craters and other damage. UNRWA believes there were at least three impacts. The Agency points out that the people who suffered the attack had been instructed to leave their homes by Israeli authorities.

The precise location of the Jabalia Elementary Girls School and the fact that it was housing thousands of internally displaced people had been communicated to the Israeli army 17 times to ensure its protection. The last communication was at 8.50 p.m., just hours before the fatal shelling.

This is at least the sixth time an UNRWA emergency shelter was struck. There is widespread fear among the displaced and UNRWA staff about the deteriorating security environment.

Also in Jabalia, on 29 July, a staff member was killed while driving an UNRWA vehicle. Earlier that day, two UNRWA staff members died when an explosive projectile struck a private home in Nuseirat. UNRWA has so far lost eight staff members since beginning of hostilities.

Amid intensified fighting and in anticipation of a flood of new displacements, the Agency has reached a breaking point. UNRWA is now providing shelter to at least 219,657 displaced Palestinian civilians in 86 shelters in all five areas of the Gaza Strip, and the influx continues.