UNESCO is gravely concerned about the impact of the hostilities in the Gaza Strip on students and education professionals. The Organization calls for the protection of educational establishments, which often serve as shelters for the population, and recalls that targeting them or using them for military purposes constitute violations of international law.
Following the terrorist attacks committed against Israeli civilians by Hamas on 7 October, the operations of the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip have caused a serious humanitarian crisis affecting all aspects of civilian life, including education. Today, more than 625,000 pupils and more than 22,500 teachers in the area are in an extremely vulnerable situation.
Since 7 October, more than 200 schools have been damaged – around 40% of the total number of schools in the Gaza Strip – about forty of them very seriously, according to UNICEF data.
In accordance with its mandate, UNESCO reminds all actors of their obligation to comply with international humanitarian law, in particular with Resolution 2601 adopted in 2021 by the United Nations Security Council, which “strongly condemns the continued attacks as well as threats of attacks that are in contravention of international humanitarian law against schools and civilians connected with schools, including children and teachers, and urges all parties to armed conflict to immediately cease such attacks and threats of attacks and to refrain from actions that impede access to education.”
UNESCO points out that this same resolution “condemns the military use of schools in contravention of international law, and recognizes that use by armed forces and armed groups may render schools legitimate targets of attack, thus endangering children’s and teachers’ safety as well as their education”.