Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Israeli army massacres civilians at U.N. schools

6 January 2009

    for immediate release: appeal for boycott of Israeli government.

    Photo: Palestinians surveyed the scene after the air strike at the school.

Forty-two women and children were killed when an Israeli tank opened fire outside a UN-run school in Gaza today, the third such attack in 24 hours. Two tank shells exploded outside the al-Fakhora school in Jabaliya refugee camp, spraying shrapnel on those inside and outside the building, where hundreds of Palestinians had sought refuge from Israeli shelling.

Those who died in the attack today were people sheltering in the school and local residents. Schools run by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) have opened their doors to provide shelters for thousands of Palestinians who have fled their homes. The Israeli government has been informed of this fact by the UNRWA representatives in Gaza. At least 17 schools are sheltering more than 5,000 people. Nine of the schools in the Jabaliya refugee camp are in the front line of fighting.

Max Gaylard, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, said that Israel had the GPS co-ordinates of all U.N. buildings in Gaza – including its schools. “Neither homes nor U.N. shelters are safe” for civilians, he said in a statement that reaffirmed UN ceasefire calls. “These tragic incidents need to be investigated, and if international humanitarian law has been contravened, those responsible must be held accountable.”

Israel has a history of attacking U.N. shelters holding civilians. In Qana, south Lebanon, the Israeli army massacred hundreds of civilians when they bombed UN shelters in 1996. This deliberate war crime was repeated in 2006 when Israel again bombed U.N. buildings protecting civilians.

Today we call on the Canadian Government to condemn this grave war crime, as any justification for this despicable act perpetuated by the Israeli military will only signal that the Conservative government views Palestinian live as subhuman.

Also at this moment, we can only reaffirm our commitment in the strongest possible terms to continue mobilizing friends and allies in other progressive social movements to respond to the call by over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations for a comprehensive campaign of boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS).

Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights

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