UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, has called on Israel “to end attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure which are contrary to international law.”
This is rare recognition by a UN agency that Israel is indeed deliberately targeting civilians.
The call came in a series of tweets drawing attention to the dire situation as the toll from Israel’s relentless bombardment of Gaza, which began one week ago, reached 174 persons killed, eighty percent of them civilians.
More than thirty children are among the dead. Health facilities in Gaza are struggling to care for more than 1,100 people injured in the round-the-clock bombardments.
Earlier today, James Rawley, UN humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, witnessed the devastation.
“Today we have had a small glimpse of the damage incurred so far and the wide-range of humanitarian impacts that are emerging,” Rawley said at a press conference in Gaza City.
“These include damage to 66 schools, and the destruction of over 940 homes, as well as damage to health, education, water and sanitation facilities, and electricity infrastructure that make it increasingly difficult to provide even the most basic services,” Rawley added.
Homes of thousands destroyed
More than 5,600 Palestinians have been made homeless by the direct destruction of homes, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported.
Rawley said that 16,000 other Palestinians have already fled their homes, many taking refuge at shelters opened by the UN.
In an emergency update on its website today, UNRWA warns that “the impact of the ongoing conflict on civilians has today taken a significant turn. Thousands of people have been internally displaced as they escape airstrikes affecting their homes and neighborhoods or respond to leaflets distributed by Israel telling them to leave their homes.”
UNRWA says that 2,000 people had already taken shelter at schools it runs and “this number was rising by the minute.”
UNRWA notes that 49 of its installations have been damaged since 1 June.
But the pace of Israeli attacks is not abating.
“In the past 24 hours, nine UNRWA installations were damaged. All of these were schools, in Gaza, Middle, North and Rafah Areas,” the agency stated.