The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are investigating claims that at least 4 of its mortar rounds landed on and damaged another UN school in Gaza that housed refugees from the fighting. Gaza health officials have stated that at least 15 died in the strike and 90 were injured in the strike.
At the moment, it is unclear as to whether or not the school was targeted on purpose. Peter Krahenbuhl, commissioner-general of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), stated "Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN-designated shelter in Gaza. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.
"We have visited the site and gathered evidence. We have analyzed fragments, examined craters and other damage. Our initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery that hit our school, in which 3,300 people had sought refuge. We believe there were at least three impacts."
This is not the first time that the IDF has struck a UN facility: there have been at least five other strikes in an operation that the IDF has promised would be 'precise.' Last week, another UN school was struck where families were taking refuge from the fighting. People standing in the courtyard were struck and killed, and it was determined by UN investigators that the shells were Israeli in origin.
Around 200,000 Palestinians have taken refuge in UN facilities, which accounts for 10% of the total population in Gaza.
The death toll from the fighting has risen to around 1300, with about 1250 Palestinians killed in the conflict, and 53 Israelis killed. The majority of those killed on the Palestinian side have been civilians, while only 3 Israeli casualties have been civilian.
United States Secretary of State John Kerry was in Cairo yesterday in the hopes that a cease-fire could be brokered between the two parties. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has cobbled together a party consisting of the coalition government, including members of Fatah and Hamas, to meet with Israeli cabinet ministers in Cairo to discuss peace.
Many are doubtful of a successful outcome for the peace talks, as both sides seek to enact their demands, most of which are viewed as counterproductive by the other side.
Adding to the maelstrom was the destruction of Gaza's only power plant by IDF shelling, which would take up to a year to repair. The Gaza Strip had already been suffering from sporadic power outages and unclean water, and without power, the area will likely endure high rates of famine and disease if the power plant is not repaired immediately.
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