The Israeli army has provided proof that while an IDF mortar did indeed hit a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school in Beit Hanoun in Gaza, it did not kill 16 people as much of the world’s media has reported.
The video below reveals how a stray round hit the school’s courtyard, but also proves that there were no people in the immediate area. The issue has been a key point raised by anti-Israel activists and politicians in recent days, with many arguing that the attack itself it a reason enough for Israeli forces to desist from their operations in Gaza. Now it looks like the case against the IDF may fall apart.
“A single errant mortar landed in the school courtyard, injuring no one,” said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.
“In light of the inquiry’s findings, the IDF rejects the claims that were made by various officials immediately following the incident, that people were killed in the school premises as a result of IDF operational activity,” said the army.
Palestinians said 16 people were killed during the Thursday fight and blamed Israel for the deaths. Lerner said the dead and wounded “could have been caught in the crossfire” or even hit by “mortars fired by the militants themselves.” He also said Gaza officials refused to describe the wounds or cause of death of the victims. According to witnesses, there were not any militants at the school.
The UN condemned the attack on the school, but UNRWA itself found rockets in UN-run schools twice this past week. UNRWA said it returned the rockets to the local authorities, but Israel said the weapons will be handed right back to Hamas since these authorities “answer to the Hamas-backed unity government led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.”