Instead of preparing to start the new term in Gaza, teachers are voluntering to help the 200,000 people who have turned to UNRWA schools for shelter after their homes have been destroyed by the Israeli bombardment. Families are crammed, often four to a classroom in the schools, which are normally attended by half the children of Gaza. The beginning of the new school year, which was due on August 24th has been indefinitely postponed because of the  crisis.

To make matters even worse, a total of 230 schools have been damaged in the bombardment, with 25 destroyed and needing to be reconstructed. Moreover there is an ever present threat from unexploded bombs - after the 2009 attacks, at least six children were killed in this way.

Before the present cease-fire 1975 Palestinians had been killed, among whom 459 were children. More than 3,000 children have also been injured under conditions where hospitals are starved of the necessary resources to treat them. Moreover according to the UN: 'At least 373,000 children require direct and specialized psychosocial support (PSS). Children are showing symptoms of increasing distress, including bed wetting, clinging to parents and nightmares. It is likely that every child in the Gaza strip is affected by the crisis and will require some level of psychosocial support.'

Under these conditions, teachers, many of whom will also have suffered injury, loss and trauma themselves, will be anxious to continue the education of children which is given such a high priority by the Palestinian people. The situation which sees schools being destroyed or unavailable, so that teachers are unable to do that work, adds just one more layer of cruelty to an already desparately cruel situation. Meanwhile the plight of the Palestinian people of Gaza and their incredible courage in the face of it, is garnering ever increasing levels of global solidarity including in Israel itself, where a huge peace rally was held in Tel Aviv last night.