Stop the bombing of schools in Gaza

Norwegian Refugee Council , August 2, 2014

NRC demands an immediate halt to Israel’s bombing of schools and Hamas’ use of schools in their military operation. 26 days into the conflict at least 138 schools have been affected by Israeli shelling and several dozen Palestinians have been killed while seeking refuge in schools in Gaza.

“It is unacceptable that schools that are designed to help children learn are bombed in this escalating conflict. When civilians seek refuge in schools, they must be guaranteed safety. This responsibility rests heavily on both parties”, says Jan Egeland, NRC Secretary General.

Over 475.000 Palestinians have fled their homes. Many of them have sought refuge in schools. So far the war has killed 1,525 Palestinians, 329 of which are children. Many of these children were killed while they stayed in schools. This morning Israel targeted another school in the Gaza Strip’s southern city of Rafah. It is believed that at least 10 Palestinians have been killed in what is the second hit on an UN-run school in less than a week.

“The continued targeting of schools in Gaza has deprived children of life and any future”, says NRC Laura Masshall, who is the Education Programme Manager in Palestine.

NRC demands that Norwegian authorities immediately put pressure on both parties to stop the bombing and the military use of schools. The process initiated by Norwegian authorities to establish the so-called Lucens Guidelines, guidelines that guarantee the safety of schools and educational institutions in war zones, must now be intensified.

“The massive bombing of schools we have seen in Gaza in recent weeks shows that schools can in no way be regarded as safe havens. The international community must now respond and Norway needs to ensure that the Lucens Guidelines are made part of international law,” says Egeland.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is an independent, humanitarian, non-profit, non-governmental organisation which provides assistance, protection and durable solutions to refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide.