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Israel Targets Toy Store, Not Hamas Container, Inside UNRWA School in Al-Shati Camp

Wesam Abo Marq Wesam Abo Marq
12th June 2024
Israel Targets Toy Store, Not Hamas Container, Inside UNRWA School in Al-Shati Camp
An Israeli aircraft targeted a UNRWA school in the Al-Shati refugee camp (X)

Amid ongoing Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, an Israeli aircraft targeted the Asmaa UNRWA school in the Al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza. The Israeli Occupying Forces stated that a precise Israeli Air Force (IAF) strike eliminated Hamas fighters who were allegedly operating from a container within the school's premises. However, Misbar's investigation revealed that the IOF strike hit a toy and food store inside the school.

Israel Says It Eliminated Hamas Fighters in a Container Inside UNRWA School

On June 7, the IOF official X account posted a photo allegedly showing the container used by Hamas fighters, which was targeted in the area of the Asmaa UNRWA school. 

The IOF stated, “We eliminated Hamas terrorists in a precise IAF strike while they were operating in a container inside the premises of an @UNRWA school in Shati earlier today. The terrorists carried out terrorist attacks from the U.N. school premises while using it as a shield for their terror activities. Prior to the strike, many steps were taken to mitigate civilian harm. Hamas systematically, intentionally and strategically places its infrastructure and operates from within civilian areas, in full violation of international law and while putting the lives of Gazan civilians at risk.”

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A screenshot of the IOF’s post (X)

Similarly, the State of Israel’s X account, managed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, shared the same photo with the identical claim.

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A screenshot of the State of Israel’s post (X)

Israel Struck a Toy Store at UNRWA School in Al-Shati Camp

Misbar’s team investigated the claims made by Israel's official accounts and found them to be misleading. Contrary to the claim that a Hamas container inside the Asmaa UNRWA school was targeted, Misbar’s investigation revealed otherwise. 

A video released by Palestinian journalist Ismail Alghoul on the X platform shows the immediate aftermath of the Israeli attack on the school, clearly depicting that the school was sheltering Gazan civilians, including many women and children, who were affected by the airstrike. This footage contradicts Israel’s claim of having taken "many steps to mitigate civilian harm."

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A screenshot of Ismail Alghoul’s video (X)

Misbar’s team also investigated the exact location of the airstrike and found that it was not a Hamas container inside the school. Instead, the Israeli Occupying Forces conducted an airstrike on a store allocated for saving children’s toys and food for displaced people in the school. 

Ismail Alghoul, who is covering Israeli atrocities in the north of Gaza, has also uploaded a video of the targeted place inside the school. The video shows the possessions of children and displaced people in the UNRWA school in Al-Shati Camp.

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A screenshot of Ismail Alghoul’s video (X)

Another video released by Palestinian journalist Omar el qattaa includes an interview with a person who was sheltering inside the school at the time of the attack. The individual stated that they were sitting when the container was struck and showed that the container contained toys for children, such as toy guns and drag toys, as well as other possessions like masks, brooms, and chalk. He further added that the people inside the school are displaced and using the school as a shelter, believing it to be a "safe" place to live.

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A screenshot of Omar el qattaa’s video (Instagram)

Gaza Government Media Office’s Post-Attack Press Statement

Following the Israeli officials' claim of targeting a Hamas container inside the UNRWA school, the Gaza Government Media Office released a statement refuting these claims. According to the statement, the Israeli occupation aircraft committed a new crime by targeting the Asmaa UNRWA School in Al-Shati camp, resulting in the deaths of three citizens and the injuries of seven others.

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A screenshot of the Gaza Government Media Office’s post attack translated press statement.

The statement further added that the bombing of the Asmaa UNRWA school brings the total number of UNRWA schools designated as shelters and targeted by Israeli forces to over 150. In addition, dozens of other UNRWA facilities and service centers used for sheltering displaced persons have also been bombed.

The Gaza Government Media Office condemns the ongoing attacks on shelter centers and the genocide against the Palestinian people. The Office called on the United Nations and the international community to take serious action to end the violence against defenseless civilians in Gaza. 

Israel’s ‘Insidious Campaign’ to End UNRWA Operations in Gaza

Since October 7, Israeli authorities have made baseless claims, alleging ties between the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees and Hamas, along with claims that its staff was involved in the October 7 Operation. These claims prompted several countries, including the United States, to halt funding for UNRWA, causing operational turmoil.

The suspension of funding, amounting to approximately $450 million, was a direct consequence of Israeli claims against UNRWA. This move significantly hampered UNRWA's ability to sustain its operations, as it heavily relies on voluntary donations.

Israel has not provided evidence linking UNRWA staff to Hamas, as stated in the "Colonna Report," chaired by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna. The report concluded that Israel failed to substantiate its claims that 12 UNRWA employees participated in the Hamas Operation on October 7, 2023.

Israeli officials have a history of targeting UNRWA in attempts to halt its operations in the Gaza Strip. Misbar's team has diligently worked to debunk Israeli claims against the agency.

Recently, Israeli official accounts released voice recordings purportedly involving two UNRWA workers allegedly implicated in the October 7 operation. However, Misbar's team investigated these recordings and identified multiple discrepancies.

In another report, Misbar's team highlighted Israel's involvement in funding a campaign that operates over 500 fabricated accounts across various social media platforms. The main objective of this coordinated effort is to undermine the credibility of UNRWA, particularly targeting Western countries and the United States.

UNRWA Staff Fatalities and Infrastructure Damage in Gaza

As of April 30, the U.N. reported that 254 aid workers had lost their lives in Gaza since October 7, 2023, with UNRWA personnel accounting for 188 of these fatalities. On May 13, a U.N. vehicle en route to a hospital in Gaza was struck, resulting in the death of at least one U.N. staff member and injuring at least one more. 

UNRWA reports indicate that 169 of its facilities have been impacted by hostilities in 368 incidents, with at least 429 displaced individuals losing their lives in UNRWA shelters. Besides, the IOF, according to the U.N., has targeted and fired upon individuals gathering to receive aid, resulting in hundreds of casualties. These assaults are significantly impeding efforts to provide critical aid in Gaza.

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A screenshot of the Human Rights Watch’s Report.

As of May 26, the total number of UNRWA colleagues who have been killed by Israel has risen to 192.

Similarly, recent Israeli airstrikes targeted a UNRWA school in central Gaza's Al-Nuseirat area, resulting in the deaths of at least 40 individuals and injuring dozens more.

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