The attack on Wednesday of another UN school in Gaza which was housing 3,000 Palestinian refugees may mark a tipping point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay accused Israel of deliberately defying international law in its conflict with Hamas. Israel announced it would launch an investigation into the incident.
Whoever is to blame, NGOs want to see an end to the violence.
“They are being damaged in their bodies and in their minds,” remarked Robert Mardini, Head of Operations for the Near and Middle East at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). “The question here is not to see who is respecting which rule of war and who is violating which other rule of war. We are facing a major humanitarian emergency. We are calling for the destruction to stop now and we are calling for the killing to stop now,” he explained.
At least 16 were killed when a school in the Jabaliya refugee camp was shelled on Wednesday, putting children on the frontline.
“It’s mortal fear and they’re right to be in fear because the casualty rate continues to go up. We’ve been communicating to you for the last number of days that it’s a child per hour that is being killed,” said John Ging, Director of Operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
On an official visit in Costa Rica, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was greeted by protesters chanting in solidarity with Gaza.
The conflict, now into its 24th day, is the longest between Israel and militants from Gaza.
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