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The Future of Palestinian Children

This blog item--by  Assistant Professor Sarah Dryden-Peterson, Maysa Jalbout, and Kevin Watkins--appeared on on Aug. 4, 2014.

Last week, according to the United Nations, Israeli forces bombed the Jabalia Elementary Girls School in northern Gaza while it served as an U.N.-designated shelter. At least 15 people—including four children—were killed, and many more wounded. Yesterday, an Israeli strike in the immediate vicinity of an U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school in Rafah killed at least nine and injured over 25 people, while on July 23rd, a similar attack on another UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun left 15—including six children—dead and over 100 injured.

UNRWA schools have been hit by direct shelling six times in the past month. According to astatement by UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl, the Jabalia incident represents “an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame.” U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown added, “Schools should never be theatres of war but should be safe havens for boys and girls,” while Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui stated frankly, “After three weeks of conflict, no one can doubt that there are no safe places for the children of Gaza.” The plight of children in Gaza is further compounded by militants storing munitions inside of schools. As Chris Gunness, spokesman for the UNRWA, has said “This is yet another flagrant violation of the neutrality of our premises. We call on all the warring parties to respect the inviolability of U.N. property.”

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