Caritas Jerusalem calls for increased protection and care for schools and all institutions where children congregate

Ancient Hebrew proverb – “The world only exists through the breath of school children”

Caritas Jerusalem is once again deeply concerned about military actions which result in schools being targeted by any weaponry. Military actions directed toward schools often result in children being injured. Caritas Jerusalem pleads upon all parties to avoid schools and places where children congregate.

Sadly, this is what took place on June 1, 2004. According to UNRWA, “At around 16:00hrs a tank stationed on sand dunes several hundred metres from UNRWA’s Al-Umariye Elementary Boys’ School opened fire on the Tel Es-Sultan district of Rafah. The school stands on the main road into Tel Es-Sultan. Several shots hit the school building and one hit the window frame of a second-floor classroom.

The bullet, or shrapnel from the window, entered the classroom where it struck two ten year old boys. One was lightly injured in the head. The second, Mahmoud Nathmey Hamad was struck in the neck. After being rushed to hospital he received emergency surgery. His condition is still serious, but is now improving.” (Press release from UNRWA Press Release No. HQ/G/18/2004,

Peter Hansen, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, said: “This is the second time in a little over a year that a child in a UN classroom has been struck by Israeli fire. Such indifference to the sanctity of schools and the UN flags flying above them violates all humanitarian norms and is absolutely deplorable. Israel’s military must take steps to investigate this incident and, if necessary, bring to justice those responsible.” (ibid.)

Claudette Habesch, Caritas Jerusalem’s Secretary General also voiced strong opposition to the targeting of schools by any party. “All children have the right to have access to schools and education. Children also have the right to feel and be secure in their classrooms. Schools and war do not mix. It is inconceivable that a child attempting to improve him/her self through education would come home from school with a shrapnel wound. This must never happen again. I respectfully call on all parties to avoid schools and places where children congregate.”