At least 11 United Nations staff and personnel, as well as 30 students at UN schools, have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the October 7 attack by Hamas terrorists on Israel, according to The Times of Israel.
UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said, “11 United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) staff and personnel have been killed since Saturday”, referring to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees which also runs schools in Gaza.
“30 UNRWA students have also been killed and another eight have been injured,” she said.
The victims include five teachers, a gynaecologist, an engineer, a counselor, and three support staff, UNRWA’s deputy director Jennifer Austin said in a statement.
She further said, “UNRWA mourns this loss and is grieving with our colleagues and the families. UN staff and civilians must be protected at all times during conflict. We call for the fighting to come to an end to spare more civilian lives.” Reportedly, over 250,000 people in Gaza have fled from their homes, the UN said.
However, most of these people have crowded into schools run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, The Times of Israel reported.
Marking the sixth day of the fatal rocket fire attack by Hamas, over 1,200 people have been killed, more than 3000 injured and an estimated 100–150 were abducted and taken to the Gaza Strip.
The Israel Air Force’s chief of staff, Brigadier General Omer Tishler, said that the Israeli Air Force was not targeting civilians in the Gaza Strip but that the strikes were no longer “surgical”.
“We do not act like the other side, we do not attack the civilian population. Behind every attack there is a target,” he said. “We act precisely and professionally but not surgically. I’m not talking about single, tens, or hundreds [of strikes]. We are talking about thousands of munitions,” Tishler said.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Monday that he has ordered a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip.
“I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel; everything is closed,” Gallant said. “We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly,” he added.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Wednesday to protect civilians and for international humanitarian law to be upheld.
“About 220,000 Palestinians are now sheltering in 92 UNRWA facilities across Gaza,” he said, adding that UN premises, hospitals, clinics, and schools must “never be targeted.” The Palestinian envoy also mentioned Israel’s Defence Minister’s statement in the letter, which said, “We are fighting human animals… We are imposing a complete siege on Gaza. There will be no electricity, no water, and no fuel. Everything will be closed”.
He claimed that “Israeli occupying forces (IOF)” continue attacking civilian areas across the Gaza Strip, firing missiles, bombs, and artillery by air, land, and sea. Violating all rules of international humanitarian law, Israel is deliberately targeting homes, including apartment buildings, refugee camps, hospitals and other medical facilities, UNRWA schools, mosques, and other civilian properties and infrastructure, including roads, hampering the passage of emergency vehicles and access of humanitarian personnel to aid the wounded.
The letter mentioned that the casualties are estimated at 849 Palestinians killed, including families in their entirety throughout Gaza, and over 5,350 wounded by lethal IOF attacks in the days since Israel began its onslaught on October 7. The toll is rising by the minute.
He emphasised that the harm being done to children and women is unspeakable. Children are being traumatized and terrorized, orphaned by the hundreds as their parents are murdered before their eyes, displaced as their homes are blown up and reduced to rubble, and among the dead and wounded, with reports of over 140 children killed.
As of this writing, it is estimated that more than 80 women are also among the dead, with casualty figures still rising.
Giving details about the destruction, the Palestinian envoy sought to stop the bloodshed and save civilian lives and he reiterated that the targeting of civilians must be halted immediately.
Meanwhile, earlier, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that the US was “actively discussing” with Israel and Egypt to ensure safe passage for civilians from Gaza, according to The Times of Israel.
“We support safe passage for civilians. Civilians are not to blame for what Hamas has done. They didn’t do anything wrong, and we continue to support safe passage,” Kirby said during a press briefing.
As of Wednesday, the coastal enclave, home to 2.3 million people have been dealing with deteriorating condition as entire city blocks were reduced to rubble and residents searched for places to go.
Moreover, the power plant in the Gaza Strip ceased operations on Wednesday afternoon after running out of fuel, the Gaza Energy Authority announced, The Jerusalem Post reported.
In an update posted on X, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said that dozens of warplanes attacked more than 80 targets throughout Beit Hanon during the night.
“Dozens of warplanes attacked over 80 targets throughout Beit Hanon during the night. Among other things, the planes attacked two bank branches used by the terrorist organization Hamas to finance terrorism in the Gaza Strip, an underground terrorist tunnel in the territory of the Gaza Strip and two operational headquarters used by the terrorist organization Hamas to direct terrorism to the State of Israel,” IDF posted on X.
Gaza’s Civil Defense Department has warned that there were only a few rescue teams to search for survivors buried under rubble and that teams were unable to reach many places owing to the damaged roads and constant bombardments.
“There is no safe place in Gaza right now,” said journalist Hasan Jabar after three Palestinian journalists were killed in the bombardment of a downtown neighbourhood home to government ministries, media offices, and hotels. “I am genuinely afraid for my life.”