In the deadliest single attack on Gaza civilians since the war began, Israel fired three mortar shells at the United Nations’ al-Fahoura school in the Jabalya refugee camp. The school was filled with civilians who had been forced from their homes by the Israeli invasion, and the attack killed at least 46. The United Nations reports that at least 55 other civilians were wounded in the attack.
The United Nations says the building was clearly marked with UN flags and that they were in contact with the Israeli military when the war began to inform them of the location of the school precisely to prevent it being targeted.
Indeed, the Israeli military does not seem to deny that they deliberately targeted a building they knew to be filled with hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians. Instead they claim that Hamas militants were using the school as a base of operations, something the United Nations adamantly denies.
“So far we’ve not had violations by militants of our facilities,” insists UN Relief and Works Agency Gaza Director John Grig, who added that those seeking shelter in the school were carefully vetted to ensure that no militants were allowed inside. Israel’s claims about the compound only came hours after the international community began to express outrage over the killings: initially they promised simply to “look into the incident.”
The outrage over the killings was so palpable, in fact, that even President-elect Barack Obama managed to find his voice to briefly speak on the Gaza conflict for the first time. Though he insisted he had “plenty to say on the matter,” he said little else, instead promising more elaborate comments after January 20th. Hopefully in another two weeks the president-elect will be able to decide if attacking a school full of civilians is a good thing, or a bad thing.