On 17 January 2009, the Israeli military started firing shells of white phosphorus over the Mashrou Boys School in Beit Lahiya, which was used as a shelter. By 16 January about 1,900 displaced civilians were sheltering there, including 265 children under the age of three.1 The GPS coordinates of the school had been communicated to the Israeli army, and the school was included on a list of 91 provisional shelters given to them before the offensive.
According to a UN investigation, shells exploded above the school, dispersing white phosphorous-impregnated felt wedges into the school. A shell casing crashed through the roof and another hit an open-air corridor; shrapnel and debris killed two young brothers: Bilal (5) and Mohammad (3). Thirteen other people were injured in the attack4 including the children’s mother Njoud, and their eight-year-old cousin Fatima.
The children killed in the attack were:
- Bilal Mohammad Shihda al-Ashkar (5)
- Mohammad Shihda al-Ashkar (3)
During Operation Cast Lead, many children were killed as a result of Israeli military attacks targeting schools or alleged military objectives located in close proximity to schools. So far, DCI-Palestine has documented the killing of 32 children and maiming of at least six.
Palestine, 31 August 2009
Read the full report: "Operation Cast Lead: Toddlers killed in white phosphorus attack on school"