Israeli fire wounds Palestinian girl in UN school in Gaza Strip

7 September 2004 – The main United Nations agency helping Palestine refugees today decried the wounding by Israeli gunfire of a child sitting in a classroom of one of its schools in the Gaza Strip – the third such incident in 18 months.

The 10-year old girl was struck in the head while at her desk in a UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) school in Khan Younis camp when Israeli forces retaliated with sporadic gunfire targeted at the camp after Palestinian militants fired a homemade rocket at the Neve Dekalim settlement.

“The kind of live firing into refugee camps that is so indiscriminate that it makes classrooms dangerous for 10-year old children is totally unacceptable,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen said. “UNRWA will protest this violation of the sanctity of its school in the strongest possible terms to the Israeli authorities.”

The girl, Raghda Adnan Al-Assar, underwent major surgery in the European Gaza Hospital.

On 1 June two 10-year old children in an UNRWA school in Rafah were hit by a bullet and ricochets from an Israeli tank stationed on the sand dunes opposite the school. In March last year, a 12-year old girl was blinded when bullet from an Israeli observation post on the outskirts of Khan Younis struck her head.

In another development, UNRWA has announced that it will open 103 new shelters in Rafah for families whose homes have been demolished during the latest uprising against Israel.

Last week the Agency protested to Israel over its barring Mr. Hansen from leaving the Gaza Strip to perform his duties in the West Bank in a security clampdown.

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