Caritas-Jerusalem Decries Military Attacks Near Schools

U.N. Aide Criticizes Israeli Operations

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JERUSALEM, JUNE 10, 2004 ( Caritas-Jerusalem is deeply concerned about military actions that result in schools being targeted by weaponry.

One such incident took place June 1 in the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza, Caritas said in a statement sent to ZENIT.

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, «Around 4 p.m. a tank stationed on sand dunes several hundred meters from UNRWA’s Al-Umariye Elementary Boys’ School opened fire on the Tel Sultan district of Rafah. The school stands on the main road to Tel Sultan. Several shots hit the school building and one hit the window frame of a second-floor classroom.»

«The bullet, or shrapnel from the window, entered the classroom where it struck two 10-year-old boys,» the Caritas statement said. «One was lightly injured in the head. The second, Mahmoud Nathmey Hamad, was struck in the neck. After being rushed to hospital he received emergency surgery. His condition is still serious, but is now improving.»

Peter Hansen, UNRWA commissioner-general, said: «This is the second time in a little over a year that a child in a U.N. classroom has been struck by Israeli fire. Such indifference to the sanctity of schools and the U.N. flags flying above them violates all humanitarian norms and is absolutely deplorable.»

Claudette Habesch, Caritas-Jerusalem’s secretary-general, also voiced strong opposition to the targeting of schools by any party. «All children have the right to have access to schools and education,» she said. «Schools and war do not mix.»

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