Moments before the school massacre, Israel forced thousands of patients and displaced people seeking shelter at the Al-Shifa Hospital to evacuate the medical facility.
Qatar renewed its demand for an “urgent” probe into Israel’s targeting of schools and hospitals in Gaza on Saturday following a massacre at the Al-Fakhoora School in the Jabalia refugee camp, where at least 200 people were killed.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs renews Qatar’s demand for an urgent investigation, including the dispatch of independent UN investigators to investigate the facts of the ongoing targeting of schools and hospitals by the Israeli occupation army,” Qatar’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The statement further condemned the Israel’s targeting of the United Nations-funded school in Jabalia Camp in northern Gaza, where hundreds of displaced Palestinians have been seeking shelter since the start of the war on October 7.
Israel has killed more than 12,000 Palestinians, including 4,710 children, since the start of the war, however the actual numbers are expected to be higher due to the collapse of the Gazan health ministry.
“Qatar strongly condemns the Israeli occupation’s renewed shelling of Al-Fakhoora School in Jabalia Camp in northern Gaza, which led to the martyrdom of dozens, mostly children and women. It also considers this a horrific massacre, a brutal crime against unarmed civilians, and a flagrant violation of the principles of international law,” the statement read.
The Gulf state also called on the international community “to take urgent action to hold Israel accountable and deter it from committing more crimes against civilians, and to provide the necessary protection for the displaced who are sheltering at the school.”
“The Ministry warns that the silence of the international community regarding the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the occupation against the Palestinian people will increase the tension, expand the circle of violence, and lead to further escalation and instability,” the statement added.
Qatar’s Education Above All Foundation (EAA) separately condemned “the deliberate attacks” on Al-Fakhoora and the Al-Falah school on Friday.
“EAA recognises these atrocities as part of a distressing pattern of systematic and deliberate targeting of civilians and vital civilian infrastructure,” EAA said in a statement.
EAA has been a key partner of the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza, serving as a vital lifeline for students under siege. The organisation had reconstructed Al-Fakhoora school following previous Israeli bombardments in 2009 and 2014.
EAA also established the Al-Fakhoora programme, named after the school in Jabalia, in 2009 “to honour the victims” of prior bombardments. The programme’s Al-Fakhoora House was destroyed by an Israeli strike in Gaza on October 10.
“Throughout the ongoing assault on Gaza over the past 43 days from October 7, Palestinian children have not only been denied access to education but have also been subjected to indiscriminate aerial bombardment,” EAA added.
Meanwhile, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said he had received “horrifying images and footage of scores of people killed and injured” of schools in Gaza.
“These attacks cannot become commonplace, they must stop. A humanitarian ceasefire cannot wait any longer,” the UN official said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Palestine’s news agency Wafa noted that “the Israeli massacres in Gaza have not ceased since the beginning of the aggression”, adding that “all public and private properties have been consistently targeted by Israeli bombardment.”
No safe shelter
Thousands of Palestinians displaced by the brutal Israeli war on Gaza have been taking shelter inside hospitals and schools.
Moments before the school massacre, Israel had forced thousands of patients and displaced people out of the Al-Shifa Hospital. The facility, the largest hospital in Gaza, has been receiving non-stop threats by Israel and was raided by occupying forces on Thursday.
Israeli forces were accused by the BBC and CNN of tampering with evidence in their attempts to ‘prove’ the presence of Hamas fighters at the hospital.
On Saturday, the IOF gave hundreds inside the hospital just one hour notice to evacuate. Medical sources told Wafa that 150 of the critically ill patients, more than 30 premature babies, and five doctors remained in the hospital due to their inability to move.
Four out of 39 incubator babies died last week after the hospital ran out of oxygen and electricity due to the Israeli siege on Gaza.
“Many doctors described the evacuation process as difficult. They were forced to raise white flags and walk difficult and destroyed roads, pushing patients on wheelchairs and sickbeds, and helping the wounded to walk the destroyed roads,” Wafa reported.
According to Wafa, the IOF surrounded the medical complex for nine days and destroyed medical equipment.
Palestine’s Health Minister Mai Alkaila said that Israel “is committing a genocide against the entire healthcare system in the Gaza Strip, including hospitals, medical doctors, and patients.”
“Where is the stance of doctors and healthcare professionals worldwide regarding the atrocities committed against their colleagues in the Palestinian healthcare sector in Gaza and the West Bank? They were once your fellow students in the United States, Europe, Russia, and Arab countries,” Alkaila told a press conference in Ramallah.
Alkaila called on the UN and global bodies including the International Committee of the Red Cross to press Israel “to allow the transport of the remaining children and patients from Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza to hospitals in the West Bank or Egypt.”
“How long hospitals, patients, and medical teams in Gaza and the West Bank would remain hostages to the onslaught, destruction, targeting, and blockade by the Israeli occupation forces without accountability or condemnation from the international community?” she added.
‘Far from enough’
A total of 26 out of 35 hospitals in Gaza are no longer operating due to the damage by Israeli airstrike or shortage of fuel. The remaining hospitals are “operating at maximum capacity”, Wafa reported.
On Saturday, Israel approved a “special request” by the US to allow two trucks of fuel to enter Gaza per day, carrying 140,000 litres (37,000 gallons).
Tzachi Hanegbi, national security adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said the fuel would “operate the sewage and water systems run by UNRWA”.
“We took that decision to prevent the spread of epidemics. We don’t need epidemics that will harm civilians or our fighters. If there are epidemics, the fighting will stop,” he said.
However, UNRWA’s chief said that the approved amount is “only half of the daily minimum requirements of fuel for humanitarian operations in Gaza.”
“This is far from enough to cover the needs for desalination plants, sewage pumps, hospitals, water pumps in shelters, aid trucks, ambulances, bakeries and communications networks to work without interruption,” Lazzarini said.
There have also been concerns over the possible spread of infectious diseases in Gaza due to the absence of medical resources and basic hygiene. Palestine’s health minister said that “diarrheal diseases” are currently “affecting over 50,000 individuals, predominantly children.”