United Nations Relief Agency (UNRWA) school buildings in the Gaza strip are being used as shelters for families fleeing from their homes as Israel continues with its aerial bombardment and threatens a land invasion. 300,000 inhabitants of Northern Gaza were warned to leave their homes and many of them fled, although most remained in their homes. UNRWA expects to have to shelter 50,000 Palestinians in its schools if there is a ground invasion, even though it only has enough supplies for 35,000, owing to cutbacks to its grants. 

The video above shows the Israeli Defence Force's so-called 'knock on the roof' policy. Residents of homes are 'warned' to vacate the building by an explosion on the roof - a minute later the building is destroyed. It is painful to imagine the terror this must cause - particularly to children - not to mention the injury and death - at least 30 children have been killed so far by IDF raids, with at least 160 Palestinian deaths in total. No Israelis have so far been killed.

Due to the Israeli blockade of Gaza the population of the country, more than half of which are children, are effectively trapped in one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Despite being a small country, Israel has the military in the world, largely financed by the US. In 2007, the then president George Bush, signed an agreement to give to Israel up to 2018. It is this military might which is raining down on the children of Gaza and their families. Meanwhile their schools, underresourced at the best of times are needed to try to keep the population safe. However according to from UNRWA, nine schools have already been damaged in the raids.

There have been protests all over the world against the bombing of Gaza, including in Egypt, in defiance of draconian laws against protest and in Israel itself, where burned a pile of dolls outside the country's Holocaust Memorial Museum, to symbolise the children killed in Gaza.

A UK National Union of Teachers delegation to Palestine earlier this year has issued the following statement in condemntaion of the IDF attack on Gaza:

NUT Delegation Statement on Gaza & Palestine

Last November, we visited the West Bank of Palestine as part of an official National Union of Teachers’ delegation. We saw at first hand how the Israeli occupation oppresses the Palestinian people through its control of Palestinian areas. Of particular concern to us as teachers was the impact the occupation has on young people, in particular:

  • The presence of over 500,000 illegal settlers living in illegal settlements which control 42% of Palestinian land

  • The routine harassment by illegal settlers and soldiers which has resulted in more than 1400 children killed since 2000 (1 every 3 days)

  • The repeated brutal detention & abusive treatment of thousands of children within a military court system which is traumatising and criminalising a generation

  • The obstacles to movement through the use of permits, road closures, checkpoints and the Wall preventing the free movement of Palestinians to schools and universities, health provision, work, family and their land

  • The lack of funding for Palestinian schools which results in a shortage of classrooms, teachers and resources

  • The imposition of a curriculum which denies Palestinian history and culture for Palestinians in East Jerusalem and in Israel

We were unable to visit Gaza as it is besieged by Israel in what David Cameron has called a ‘prison camp’. 1.7 million people live in Gaza with under-18s making up more than 50% of the population. Most of the population are refugees from the Nakba in 1948, displaced from their own towns and villages. It is enclosed on all sides with access to and from the coast controlled by Israel, and the border with Egypt effectively closed.

Israel has actively maintained this siege for many years and has resisted all efforts to ease access, resulting in dire results for the Gazan economy and infrastructure, and the lives of the Palestinians who live there.

At the time of writing, Israel has bombarded Palestine with over 2500 missiles, killing at least 168 people and injuring 1140, 80% of whom are women, children and the elderly and who have nowhere else to go. 17,000 Gazans have been displaced and have sought refuge in UNWRA buildings. Mosques, schools, hospitals, water plants and private houses have been targeted, damaged and destroyed. There can be no justification for this.

We therefore utterly condemn the actions of the Israeli forces and call on Israel to immediately halt its bombardment of Gaza and to enter into negotiations in good faith with the Palestinians in order to establish a just peace. We call for an end to the siege of Gaza and the illegal occupation of the West Bank.

We further condemn the inaction of our own government and the international community which has allowed Israel to act, with impunity, in breach of international law for decades.

If Israel does not abide by international law, we call on the UK and the international community to:

  • Start proceedings against Israel for breaches of international law

  • Cease any arms trade with Israel

  • Revoke any trade agreements which make us complicit in its illegal activities

 

Signed

 

Beth Davies (Delegation Leader, Ex-President, NUT)

Philipa Harvey (Senior Vice-President, NUT)

Dave Harvey (Chair, NUT International Committee)

Roger King (Vice-Chair, NUT International Committee)

Marilyn Bater (National Executive, Outer London)

Caroline Ezzat

Bodrul Amin

Seema McArdle

Kiri Tunks

Bernard Regan