The death toll from the ongoing Israeli war on the Gaza Strip has spiked to at least 9,488 Palestinians, including 3,900 children.
Qatar has strongly condemned Israel’s targeting of Al-Fakhura School in northern Gaza, in which at least 15 Palestinian civilians, including children, were killed.
The Gulf State described the attack, as well as numerous airstrikes on several hospitals in the besieged Strip over the last few days as “brutal massacres” and “heinous crimes against defenceless civilians.”
Education Above All (EAA) Foundation’s Al Fakhoora was founded in 2009 following deadly attacks in Gaza and was aptly named after a school in the Jabaliya refugee camp. Civilians used the school, which was under the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), as a shelter from the Israeli occupation forces’ (IOF) attacks.
The programme was created as “a direct response to honour the victims of this attack on education,” EAA added.
EAA’s Al Fakhoora programme rebuilt educational facilities destroyed by previous Israeli attacks while providing children and youth with much-needed psycho-social support following the traumatic event.
On October 10, Al Fakhoora House was destroyed by an Israeli strike in Gaza.
Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the founder of EAA, posted an image of the destroyed Al Fakhoora building on Instagram with the caption: “Eradicating education is an unforgivable crime.”
EAA also stressed “that collective punishment, reprisals and attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure are serious violations of international humanitarian law, and if deliberate, they are war crimes.”
Addressing the latest attack on the school, the foreign ministry statement said “Qatar condemns in the strongest terms the Israeli occupation’s bombing of Al-Fakhoura School, which houses thousands of displaced people in Jabalia Camp, and a number of hospitals in Gaza, and considers them brutal massacres, heinous crimes against defenseless civilians, and an assault.”
The attacks constitute a “flagrant violation of the provisions of international law and international humanitarian law.”
“The expansion of Israeli attacks in Gaza Strip to include civilian objects, including schools, hospitals and population centres, is a dangerous escalation in the course of confrontations, and portends serious consequences for the security and stability of
“It also warns in this context that the complicity of the international community, sometimes with silence and at other times with selectivity regarding war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the occupation against the Palestinian people will increase the state of tension, expand the circle of violence, and lead to further escalation and instability,” it added.
Doha also urged the international community to shoulder its responsibility and deter Israel from committing more crimes against civilians.
On Saturday, the Palestinian health ministry confirmed the death toll from the nearly month-long Israeli war on the besieged Gaza Strip, home to more than 2.3 million Palestinians, had surpassed 9,488. With nearly half of those killed being children, world leaders, rights groups and protesters around the world have called for an urgent ceasefire to stop the bloodshed.
In addition, officials said they have received 2,200 reports of missing persons, including 1,250 children still remaining under the rubble.
In its condemnation, Qatar said the selectiveness of war crimes by the international committee will only lead to “expand the cycle of violence” by the Israeli occupation force.
“Being selective about war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the occupation against the Palestinian people will increase the state of tension, expand the cycle of violence, and lead to further escalation and instability,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed.
UNRWA has confirmed that around 670,000 individuals are taking shelter in almost 150 of its congested facilities spread across Gaza. So far, at least 70 UNRWA staff members have been killed in Israel’s relentless bombing.
On Wednesday, a top UN official warned that the scale of the tragedy in the besieged Gaza Strip has reached “unprecedented” levels.
Philippe Lazzarini, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said he faced “one of the saddest days in my humanitarian work” during his first trip to the enclave.
“The levels of distress and the unsanitary living conditions were beyond comprehension. Everyone was just asking for water and food,” he said, describing the grim conditions after nearly a months-long brutal Israeli war on Gaza.
During his trip, Lazzarini paid a visit to a school that had become a sanctuary for thousands of Palestinians seeking refuge from the Israeli bombing campaign.
In a statement, the UN agency joined global calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, labelling it “a matter of life and death”. However, Lazzarini said such calls have appeared to be “falling on deaf ears. A humanitarian ceasefire is long overdue.”
“Without it, more people will be killed, those who are alive will endure further losses, and the once vibrant society will be in grief, forever,” he added. Despite this, he vowed to “continue to stand with Palestine Refugees and the rest of the Palestinian communities.”
Meanwhile, Save the Children last week warned that more children have been killed in Gaza three weeks than the annual number of those killed in conflicts globally since 2019.