Israel Kills at Least 20 in Early Morning Attack on U.N. School Shelter

A Palestinian scout collects human remains from a classroom inside a UN school in the Jabalia refugee camp after the area was hit by shelling on July 30, 2014. Photo: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images

Even with more than 200,000 Palestinians seeking shelter in 85 schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the civilian death toll in Gaza continues to climb. Four Israeli shells hit the Jebaliya Primary School for Girls, currently housing about 3,300 displaced people, around 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning, killing at least 20, the New York Times reports, in what the UNRWA called “a source of universal shame.”  

“Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a U.N.-designated shelter in Gaza,” the agency said in a statement. A U.N. spokesperson, the Times adds, “said his agency had provided the GPS coordinates of the school to the Israel Defense Forces 17 times, starting July 16 and most recently Tuesday at 8:48 p.m., to ensure it would be spared.”

Between five and seven of its shelters have been struck in Israel’s offensive, UNRWA reps claimed, although Israeli’s Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said the U.N. facilities have not been targeted. In this case, an IDF spokesperson said Palestinian fighters “opened fire at Israeli soldiers from the vicinity” of the school, and Irsaeli soldiers “responded by firing toward the origins of the fire.”

Israel then called for a “humanitarian window” from 3 to 7 p.m. (8 a.m. to noon ET), but warned that fighting would not stop where its troops were already operating. Hamas said in a statement that the break was “just for media consumption and has no value.”

At least 1,250 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed since the lopsided war began, while Israel has lost three civilians and 53 soldiers. “Hamas is responsible for all deaths on their side and on our side because they are the ones who kept this conflict going,” a spokesperson for Prime Minister Netanyahu told CNN. “People are fighting and people are dying because Hamas said no to a cease-fire.”

My house was burned and death followed us here,” said a man who witnessed the shelling of the school this morning, according to the Times. “Where am I supposed to go?”