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Israeli bombardment hits 212 schools in Gaza: UN

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-03-28 14:11

A Palestinian boy checks the debris of a building after Israeli airstrikes in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, March 24, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

UNITED NATIONS - The heavy bombardment against Gaza by Israel has resulted in "direct hits" on 212 schools within the enclave, according to analysis partnered with the United Nations released on Wednesday.

Satellite images have shown that at least 53 schools have been "completely destroyed" since the conflict began on Oct 7, 2023, along with an almost 9-percent rise in attacks on school facilities since mid-February, as reported by the UN children's fund (UNICEF), 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".

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 percent of school buildings either directly hit or damaged.

More than one in two school premises run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) have also been hit since October last year, 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 the publication of the UN-partnered report, noting more than 625,00 students and 22,000 teachers attended school before Oct 7.

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

The report also highlighted that since Oct 7, over 320 school buildings have been utilized as shelters by displaced individuals. Among these facilities, 188 have experienced direct hits or have been damaged.

The authors of the report stated that once the conflict ends, at least 67 percent of schools in Gaza "will require either complete reconstruction or significant rehabilitation to become functional again".

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