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Bomb over Books - Crime Against Humanity

Throughout the course, Education and Conflict, we have discussed time and time again the importance of schools as safe zones in conflict stricken areas and often wondered what education in schools look like in a state with ongoing violence. Begging the question, what does an academic year look like where this an outbreak of war? Are schools really safe?


It is important to note that Under international humanitarian law, both schools and hospitals are protected civilian objects. Therefore, according to UN Security Council, "Attacks on schools and hospitals during conflict is one of the six grave violations" and has been added as triggers for inclusion on the list of the Secretary-General of parties to conflict committing grave violations against children in armed conflict.


Yet, Israel is in blatantly bombing schools - a supposed safe zone in the state of Palestine.Recently this month, Israeli airstrikes attacked a school run by United Nations' Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza's Al-Maghazi refugee camp. This attack killed 6 people and displaced hundred others. Unfrotunately answering the question, schools are in fact not safe zones for those helplessly seeking refuge.


Our question of what happens to student's education during a war can be adressed by the fact that The Ministry of Education in Gaza has officially announced the end of the 2023/2024 academic year. It is crucial to realize that this is because all concerned students are announced dead owing to the war, or better put, owing to the genocide.


Children are the most vulnerable members of any society, and targeting them with bombs and violence is a grave injustice. Schools, on the other hand, are meant to be safe havens for learning and growth. When these places become the battlegrounds, innocent lives are shattered, dreams are destroyed, and the future is robbed. The ongoing war in Palestine is one grave example.




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Thank you for mentioning this, the Ministry of education in Gaza announcing the end of the 2023/2024 academic year is also something that I mentioned in one of my blogs and something that is deeply distressing. With this conflict, the effects are so permanent that I wonder if something could ever be done to undo the happenings of it. We have the INEE minimum standards handbook that talks about dealing with a conflict situation, it talks about psychological support but what can one do if to set up a psychological support clinic on top of the debris of a previous one takes months to build? what does one do when there are no people left to give psychological support to?…

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Esha I feel like the discussion on education in conflict zones hits close to home, prompting the question: What does an academic year look like when war breaks out? The violation of international humanitarian law, with Israel bombing schools in Palestine, raises the crucial question: How can these supposed safe zones become battlegrounds, robbing innocent lives and futures?

The recent attack on a UNRWA school in Gaza exemplifies this brutality, leaving casualties and displacements. The revelation that the Ministry of Education in Gaza had to end the academic year because students are declared dead due to war is heart-wrenching. How can a generation be robbed of its education, its future, due to the brutality of war? The ongoing war in…

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I think it goes without saying that education is not only a fundamental human right, as recognized by international law, but also a key factor in building stable and prosperous societies. So when a violation of this law takes place it not only results in the loss of innocent lives but also robs entire generations of their right to education and a hopeful future. The international community has a responsibility to hold those who violate international humanitarian law accountable for their actions. Case in point, Israel must be condemned internationally and countries that have the power to hold them accountable should feel responsible to do that.

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Shamsa Kanwal
Shamsa Kanwal
13 nov 2023

The vivid depiction of the recent airstrikes on schools in Palestine reveals a distressing reality where the sanctity of education falls victim to the brutality of conflict. Despite international humanitarian law designating schools as protected civilian objects, the attack on a UNRWA-run school in Gaza underscores a blatant disregard for the safety of educational institutions. The tragic announcement by the Ministry of Education in Gaza, marking the end of the academic year due to the loss of countless students in the war, emphasizes the profound impact of armed conflict on the future of a generation. This raises a critical question: how can societies aspire to peace and progress when the very places meant for learning become battlegrounds? It is imperative…

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Like you mentioned it is imperative for the international community to condemn such violations. Here I would like to add that nations like Saudia Arabia can use its power of trade and refuse to trade with Israel to show its condemnation. Similarly, USA can stop supplying weapons to the military of Israel. The world can come together to hold Israel accountable for its actions for violating human rights, especially that of young children and students who are nothing but innocent victims.

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How can we reconcile the stark contradiction between the international recognition of schools as protected civilian objects and the alarming reality exemplified by Israeli airstrikes on schools in Palestine? Unfortunately, this dilemma is not unique, as conflicts worldwide continue to disrupt education. For example, in 2020 report by Yemenis and Britain-based rights group, 380 schools were attacked in Yemen in the last 5 years. A history teacher at one of the bombed schools in Yemen said that people are not thinking about education anymore. Children are scared to go back to schools, which I must add are not schools anymore just rubbles.

It is disheartening but reading through articles for my own blog I realized a trend. I kind…

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I agree with you however, this way forward has not proved very successful in the past. For example, take Syria and the number of lives lost, people injured, and schools or hospitals bombed. Nothing happened. The situation was very complex given the number of participants and actors involved, and it was easier to sit back and do nothing regarding the many violated clauses of the law rather than holding each one accountable. Politics, agendas, and hidden power structures are at play which are not always very easy to explain. Even in the case of Israel-Palestine, all the powerful nations have gone and stood with the offender, Israel. They broke all the laws, conventions, and hope. Is it again a similar situation,…

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Fiza Jaffer
Fiza Jaffer
10 nov 2023

The Ministry of Education in Gaza announcing the end of the academic year is one of the saddest things I have ever witnessed. The book of INEE minimum standards says, "Providing quality education to all is primarily the responsibility of national authorities, delegated to ministries of education and local education authorities. Other stakeholders – multilateral organizations like the United Nations (UN), national and international NGOs, and community-based organizations – also undertake emergency education activities. In contexts where the relevant local and national authorities cannot meet their obligations, these stakeholders can assume responsibility for education provision." Gaza's Ministry of Education has lost all hope, but where are the rest of the international authorities? WHY IS THE UN SILENT? It makes…

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Hi Fiza, it is interesting how you mentioned the definition provided by the book of INEE standard. The fact that we had just studied this in class and then in the same timeframe saw blatant disregard for it is something that crossed my mind too. I too with the feeling of utter helplessness ask the same question, Why is the UN silent? I remember reading in a sarcastic joke posted somewhere that if you ever feel useless, remember there is United Nations in the world. I think you have put it in the best terms possible: selective activism. That Gazans are not white, therefore their lives don't matter. United Nations is United for all white people and just them alone.

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