Middle East

Gaza conflict: Disputed deadly incidents

Since the start of the Israel-Gaza conflict, there have been a series of deadly incidents for which each side has blamed the other. UN facilities serving as shelters are among the sites hit.

Here are some of the cases so far, where responsibility has been disputed.


An explosion at a UN-run school killed 10 people. The blast hit just outside the entrance of the school, which is sheltering thousands displaced by the conflict.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption People walk past trails of blood after the explosion at the school in Rafah

The Palestinian view

The Red Crescent, a charity, said the attack occurred while people were queuing to get food from aid workers at the entrance to the school, in what Gaza officials said was an Israeli air strike. Locals have told the BBC there were no militants in or near the school.

The Israeli view

Israel denies firing into the school. The Israeli military said it had targeted three militants from the Islamic Jihad group on a motorbike near the school, though the group did not report any of its members killed or injured.

Government spokesman Mark Regev said: "There was no firing into the school. No shells fell inside the school, there was fighting in the vicinity of the school." Mr Regev added that if militants were turning the vicinities of schools into war zones, they should be held accountable.

The UN view

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the incident as a "moral outrage and a criminal act", which constituted "yet another gross violation of international law".

A spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency, Chris Gunness, said the Israeli army had been notified "33 times about the fact that there were people at this shelter, this school. And the last time was an hour before".

The UN has called for an investigation into the incident.


Explosions hit the compound of Gaza City's Shifa hospital and a nearby playground in the Shati refugee camp. Reports say 10 people were killed in the blast at the playground, nine of them children.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption A Palestinian woman gestures at the scene of the explosion in Shati

The Palestinian view

Gaza's police, Civil Defence Directorate and health officials say Israeli air strikes caused the explosions. According to Al-Jazeera, Hamas denied it had fired any rockets from the area and said it was "categorically an Israeli air strike". Hamas said it had collected shrapnel from the scene consistent with Israeli munitions, the channel's website reported.

In a text message quoted by AP news agency, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri described the incident as a "war crime" for which "the occupation" would pay the price.

The Israeli view

The Israel Defense Forces say both explosions were the result of misfired rockets that had been launched by militants in Gaza. Spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner blamed "Gaza terrorists whose rockets fell short" and said Israeli forces had not been active in the area at the time. Israel released maps that, it says, show the trajectory of the rockets.


At least 15 people were killed in an explosion at a school in Beit Hanoun that was being used as a shelter by the UN. More than 200 people were reportedly hurt in the attack.

Image copyright AP
Image caption A Palestinian girl weeps after losing a family member in the attack on Beit Hanoun

The Palestinian view

Officials say the school was struck by three Israeli tank shells. Saed al-Saoudi, a commander of the Civil Defence in Gaza, told AP: "All the testimonies of the wounded, witnesses, paramedics and doctors confirm that the Israeli shells are the cause of this massacre."

The Israeli view

An IDF statement says that only a "single errant shell" landed in the courtyard of the school. It has provided aerial footage which, it says, proves that the shelter was empty when the shell exploded. Col Lerner said it was "extremely unlikely that anybody was killed as a result of this mortar". Israel also said that its forces had been facing mortar and rocket fire from the vicinity of the school at the time of the incident.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A crater in the yard of the Beit Hanoun school where the UN had been operating a shelter

The UN view

Officials said they had been trying to agree a time with the Israeli army when civilians could leave the area. However, Bob Turner, the Gaza director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa), said his organisation was "never given a confirmed window" for its staff and displaced Palestinians to be evacuated from the shelter.

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