Fighting Anti-Israeli Bias

Item 7



Claim 48: Israel Targets Schools in Post-October 7th Gaza War


Peru, 55th session

“The attacks on civilian targets and infrastructure needs to come to an immediate end including attacks on refugee camps, schools and hospitals, these must cease immediately.”

Morocco, 55th session

“The killing, destruction, displacement, and destruction of hospitals and schools as well as denial of the basic necessities of life for the Palestinian people, is unbearable and we cannot stay silent about it.”

Afghanistan, 55th session

“We have witnessed displacement, detentions, and horrific attacks on hospitals, religious and cultural sites, schools, and refugee camps…”

Iraq, 55th session

“We condemn all shelling of hospitals, schools, shelters, and the starvation policy that is shameful for all of humanity.”

Our Response

UN Watch

UN Watch Response

Since fighting began on October 7th, there have been numerous documented instances of Hamas operating from in or near Gaza schools. These include IDF troops being targeted by terrorists attacking from UNRWA schools[1] and Hamas terror tunnels in the vicinity of UNRWA schools.[2] On January 18, 2024, Col. Elad Shushan, commander of the 646th Reserve Paratroopers Brigade, said: “There is not a UNRWA site, school, mosque, or kindergarten in which we didn’t find weapons. None. One hundred percent.”[3]

While as a general rule of International Humanitarian Law, schools are civilian objects protected from attack, they lose protected civilian status if used for military purposes.[4] Article 52 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions defines “military objects” as “objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.”[5] This includes being used as an operational center, to store weapons, or to launch attacks.[6]

Hamas’s use of schools for military purposes in violation of international law has been well-documented for years. During Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, UNRWA admitted three times that Hamas rockets were stored in its schools.[7] A subsequent UN investigation found that terrorist rockets had been stored in UNRWA schools that were actively being used by children and that rockets had also been launched from UNRWA schools.[8]

In more recent years, UNRWA has also admitted finding Hamas terror tunnels underneath its schools.[9] During the May 2021 conflict with Hamas, the IDF published evidence that Hamas had launched rockets from a site near civilian structures, including a UN building, schools, a mosque, and apartment buildings.[10] In November 2021, UNRWA’s former Gaza Director Mathias Schmale said in an interview with NPR: “Many people told me through my four years, there’s tunnels everywhere [in Gaza] and it’s a safe assumption.”[11] Hamas’s use of UNRWA facilities for military purposes converts those facilities into lawful military targets, violates the IHL rule against use of human shields, and constitutes a war crime.[12]

Unfortunately, because Hamas embeds itself in the civilian infrastructure of Gaza, including schools, these facilities are sometimes lawfully targeted in battles against Hamas. Therefore, Peru, Morocco, Afghanistan, and Iraq should be directing their outrage at Hamas, not Israel. They should also condemn Hamas and other terrorist groups whose indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians during the current round of fighting have hit several Israeli schools, including in Sderot, Eilat, and Tel Aviv.[13]


[1] Hamas shot at IDF troops from an UNRWA school, IDF (December 9, 2023),; @ChayaRaichik10, Twitter (January 30, 2024, 1:39 AM),; @cogatonline, Twitter (December 7, 2023),; @IDF, Twitter (October 22, 2023, 9:15 PM),; @cogatonline, Twitter (October 19, 2023, 12:45 PM),

[2] @IDF, Twitter (December 3, 2023, 12:02 AM),

[3] Lazar Berman, In central Gaza, where gunmen lurk underground, a commander sees a long slog ahead, Times of Israel (January 18, 2024),

[4] See Article 52 of Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), (June 8, 1977),; Customary International Law Rule 10, ICRC Database (Last visited March 11, 2024),

[5] Additional Protocol I, Article 52.

[6] See, e.g., Michael N. Schmitt, Targeting Dual Use Structures: An Alternative Interpretation, Articles of War (June 28, 2021), See also, Ori Pomson, Israel-Hamas 2023 Symposium – Damage to UN Premises in Armed Conflict: IHL and Beyond, Articles of War (December 12, 2023) (discussing Hamas use of schools for military purposes in this and previous conflicts),

[7] UNRWA Strongly Condemns Placement of Rockets in School, UNRWA (July 17, 2014),; UNRWA Condemns Placement of Rockets, For A Second Time, In One of Its Schools, UNRWA (July 22, 2014),; Cache of Rockets Found In UN School In Gaza, UNRWA (July 29, 2014),

[8] Explosive: UN admits Palestinians fired rockets from UNRWA schools, UN Watch (April 27, 2015),

[9] UNRWA Condemns Neutrality Violation in Gaza In The Strongest Possible Terms, UNRWA (June 9, 2017),; UNRWA Reiterates The Inviolability Of Its Installations Must Be Respected At All Times, UNRWA (August 11, 2021),; UNRWA Strongly Condemns Neutrality Breach Against The Agency in Gaza, UNRWA (November 29, 2022),

[10] @IDF, Twitter (May 20, 2021, 12:25 AM),

[11] Daniel Estrin, He was the top U.N. official in Gaza. An Israeli TV interview cost him his post, NPR (November 18, 2021),

[12] Customary International Law Rule 97, ICRC Database (Last Visited March 12, 2024),

[13] Israel at War: 5 Hamas rockets hit homes, schools in Sderot near Gaza, Jerusalem Post (October 11, 2023),; Eilat school was hit by drone fired from Syria, IDF says as It strikes back, Times of Israel (November 10, 2023),; Rockets fired from Gaza cause damage in Tel Aviv, Ynet (December 5, 2023),

UN Watch