The PJ Tatler

Was a UN School in Gaza Really Bombed? (Update: No, It Wasn't)

The UN is going bonkers because they say another one of their schools in Gaza was  shelled. Ten people were killed and dozens injured, but read this account carefully from The Guardian:

A deadly attack on a school in the city of Rafah in the south of Gaza has been denounced as a “moral outrage” and “criminal act” by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.

At least 10 people were killed and dozens more wounded after a projectile struck a street outside the school gates on Sunday morning.

The school was sheltering more than 3,000 people displaced by fighting in the area. It has been the scene of heavy bombardment by the Israeli military and fierce clashes following the suspected capture by Hamas fighters of an Israeli soldier, later declared killed in action.

In a statement, Ban called on those responsible for the “gross violation of international humanitarian law” to be held accountable. He said the “Israel Defence Forces (IDF) have been repeatedly informed of the location of these sites.”

At the time of the strike – about 10.50am local time – dozens of children and adults were clustered around the gates buying biscuits and sweets from stalls set up by locals.

The missile struck the ground eight to 10 metres from the open gates. Witnesses at the scene less than an hour after the explosion claimed it had been fired from one of the many unmanned Israeli drones in the air above Rafah.

United Nations officials in Gaza described a “shelling incident” or an air strike.

The attack was not on the school. The bomb hit the street outside the gates of the school and killed and injured people standing at the gate — not in the school itself which was being used as a shelter.

In fact, look at the background of this Guardian video and note that the school appears to be untouched by the explosion:

No, I am not trying minimize the deaths of civilians. But if you’re going to charge Israel with a war crime, don’t you think it would behoove those doing the charging that they get the facts right?

General Secretary Moon could have at least waited for an explanation from the IDF:

The Israeli army said it had targeted three members of Islamic Jihad on a motorbike near the school – contradicting witnesses who said they saw no vehicles – but was investigating the effects of the attack.

To my untrained ear, it sounds like a pinpoint attack. It was a tragedy that people were at the gate buying sweets, but unless the IDF had real time intelligence indicating there were civilians present, why should they expect people to be outside of the shelter?

I think the UN and the press should stop calling this an “attack” on a school and accurately describe it as a strike near a school. Unless there was damage to the school itself or casualties inside the building, it is inaccurate to portray the strike in that way.


The Telegraph reports:

The school had been providing shelter to more than 3,000 people – the same number that had been seeking refuge at a girl’s school in Jabaliya last Wednesday when it came under attack from a hail of Israeli shells.

In contrast to that strike, which wrecked a classroom full of sleeping woman and children, the physical destruction this time appeared minimal: just a small but deep hole in the road where the missile had landed.

As I suspected, the school was untouched.

Does it really matter? I suppose if you want to charge Israel with a war crime for bombing a street, they can try that. It probably works for those already predisposed to hate Israel.

But for the few objective observers out there, it is wholly unacceptable to continue the fiction that a school was bombed when no such event occurred.

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