GAZA, 19 May – 50 schools in Gaza have been damaged by Israeli airstrikes over the past week, Save the Children said today, impacting 41,897 children[i]. Three further schools have reportedly been damaged in Israel by rockets from Gaza.
Attacking schools or hospitals is a grave violation against children and Save the Children is urging all parties to adhere to international humanitarian law and to protect them.
The figures emerge as UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said that 47,000 displaced people have been driven to use schools as shelter after losing their homes to airstrikes.
Meanwhile, schools remain closed in both Gaza and southern Israel, putting education out of reach for hundreds of thousands of children.
63 children in Gaza and two children in southern Israel have been killed since the escalation of the conflict began on 10 May. In Gaza, 450 children have been injured. Save the Children continues to demand an immediate ceasefire to protect children and their families.
Amir*, 11, in Gaza told Save the Children:
"I’m 11 years old and I’ve lived through three wars, and I’ve had friends killed in them. The hardest thing at the moment is that the Israeli army bombs all night long so we can’t sleep.
“Today, they threatened to bomb a building near our home, and we got really scared. My uncle's family had to come and shelter here. We started looking for places to hide and all the young children started to cry. My little sister started to cry. The electricity goes out when they’re bombing us and because we’re so afraid we all stay in one room.
“I wish that the world could know how unsafe we are in Gaza. Palestinian children deserve to live in safety and to be able to achieve their dreams."
Jason Lee, Save the Children’s Country Director in the occupied Palestinian territory, said:
‘‘The loss of one child’s life to conflict is one too many. Now 63 children have been killed in Gaza, and two in Israel – and the number is increasing every day. This is an abdication of moral and legal responsibility.
“The brutal truth is that no child is left unscathed and time and time again we see that children’s lives are the hardest hit by conflict.
“The destruction of schools is an abomination. Sites of learning, opportunity, play and fun for children have swiftly transformed into refuges from the bombing as homes have been destroyed and families ripped apart – and sadly the numbers of schools being destroyed show that even here, there is nowhere to hide. One in 15 schools in Gaza has now been damaged. With every school that is damaged or destroyed, children’s prospects of experiencing—and building—a better future diminish.
“All parties to the conflict must ensure that civilians and civilian infrastructure are protected from attack, in accordance with international law. All parties must immediately end attacks on schools.”
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[i] This figure is based on the number of schools partially or totally damaged according to the Education Cluster in Gaza, which has reached 50 as of 18 May. The total number of schools in the Gaza Strip is 764 schools according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics http://www.pcbs.gov.ps/Portals/_Rainbow/Documents/Schools_ar.html
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