Gaza war: ‘Direct hits’ on more than 200 schools since Israeli bombing began   


Satellite imagery pointed to at least 53 schools “totally destroyed” since conflict erupted on 7 October 2023 and a near nine per cent increase in attacks on school premises since mid-February, according to a report by the UN Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) and NGOs the Education Cluster and Save The Children. 

The “high trend of attacks on school facilities” has worsened the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, the report’s authors noted, amid “intense Israeli bombardment from air, land, and sea across much of the Gaza Strip”.

Widespread destruction

Of the 563 school buildings in Gaza, 165 of the 212 that received a direct hit are in areas designated for evacuation by the Israeli military. Data indicates that 62 schools were directly targeted in southern Khan Younis governorate, 14 in the Middle Area governorate, 94 in Gaza governorate, and 42 in North Gaza governorate – which is the most severely affected area to date, with 86.2 per cent of school buildings either directly hit or damaged. 

More than one in two school premises run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA have also been hit (57 per cent) since 7 October, according to the report, along with Government buildings targeted by Israeli shelling or during the ground operation.

“No education is happening in Gaza at all for nearly six months,” UNRWA said on Wednesday, upon publication of the UN-partnered report, which pointed to more than 625,00 students and 22,000 teachers attending school before 7 October.

Israeli military in schools

Additional findings derived from the satellite imagery and other sources “provide evidence for military use of schools” by Israeli Security Forces (ISF) “since the beginning of the escalation”. 

This includes “several concerning reports, pictures and videos showing that schools are being used for military operations by ISF, including use as detention, interrogation centres and military bases”. Satellite pictures in the report also showed military tanks, their tracks and craters from shelling in school premises in February.

The UN-backed report also noted that more than 320 school buildings have been used by displaced people as shelters since the 7 October escalation. Of these facilities, 188 have been either directly hit (90) or damaged (98).

Once conflict ends, at least 67 per cent of schools in Gaza “will either need full reconstruction or major rehabilitation work to be functional again” the report’s authors maintained.



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