Politics, World

UN experts express 'deep' concern over 'systemic destruction' of schools in Gaza

'With more than 80% of schools in Gaza damaged or destroyed, it may be reasonable to ask if there is intentional effort to comprehensively destroy Palestinian education system,' say experts

Beyza Binnur Donmez  | 18.04.2024 - Update : 19.04.2024
UN experts express 'deep' concern over 'systemic destruction' of schools in Gaza Tent schools in Rafah for Palestinian children deprived of their right to education


UN experts on Thursday expressed "deep" concern over attacks on schools, universities, teachers, and students in Gaza, raising alarm over the "systemic destruction" of the Palestinian education system.

"With more than 80% of schools in Gaza damaged or destroyed, it may be reasonable to ask if there is an intentional effort to comprehensively destroy the Palestinian education system, an action known as 'scholasticide'," the experts said in a statement.

The term "scholasticide" refers to a "systemic obliteration of education through the arrest, detention or killing of teachers, students and staff, and the destruction of educational infrastructure," they said.

According to the experts, more than 5,479 students, 261 teachers and 95 university professors have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, 2023, and over 7,819 students and 756 teachers injured.

Moreover, at least 60% of educational facilities, including 13 public libraries, have been damaged or destroyed and at least 625,000 students have no access to education.

They decried how the last remaining university in Gaza, Israa University, was also demolished by the Israeli military on Jan. 17.

"The persistent, callous attacks on educational infrastructure in Gaza have a devastating long-term impact on the fundamental rights of people to learn and freely express themselves, depriving yet another generation of Palestinians of their future," they said.

"When schools are destroyed, so too are hopes and dreams," they added.

Even UN schools sheltering forcibly displaced civilians are being bombed, they warned, saying: "These attacks are not isolated incidents. They present a systematic pattern of violence aimed at dismantling the very foundation of Palestinian society."

The experts called on the international community to send a clear message that those who target schools and universities will be held responsible.

"We owe it to the children of Gaza to uphold their right to education and pave the way for a more peaceful and just future," they concluded.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on the Gaza Strip since a cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas last Oct. 7 in which some 1,200 people were killed.

Nearly 34,0000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have since been killed in Gaza, and over 76,600 others injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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