Civilian Casualties

Civilian Casualties

Incident Code

ISPT1238

Incident date

November 20, 2023

Location

مدرسة البريج في مخيم البريج, Bureij Preparatory School for Boys, Deir al Balah, the Gaza Strip

Geolocation

31.439399, 34.408896 Note: The accuracy of this location is to Exact location (via Airwars) level. Continue to map

Airwars assessment

At around midday on Monday, November 20th 2023, an alleged Israeli bombing of the Bureij Preparatory School for Boys located in the Block 12 of the Bureij refugee camp in the Gaza Strip reportedly killed at least 12 civilians, including children and women, and injured at least 35 civilians. The school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Refugees (UNRWA) provided shelter for about two thousand displaced people fleeing from Central and Northern Gaza, according to the Hamas-affiliated Quds News Network report.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent Hani Mahmoud reported that although there was a UNRWA flag on the roof of the affected school building, the Israeli armed forces still allegedly bombed it. The Twitter/X accounts Palestine Now (@PalestineNW) and @AlarabyT shared videos showing the aftermath of the attack where broken furniture in the school’s yard and traces of blood on the ground were to be seen.

According to the video shared by the Twitter/X account of the Palestinian Refugee Portal, the attack happened at lunch time when people staying at the school’s premises were cooking. A young Palestinian girl in the video shared by the Twitter/X account @AlQastalps also said that “we were making food when a large bomb came upon us.” A young boy featured in the video by the Twitter/X account @M0SC0W0 said that during the bombardment he was staying at the school and was drinking water while @qudsn spoke with a man who “went to the market and came back and found his children had been bombed.

Referring to the Hamas statement where Hamas had called for an immediate action “to stop the targeting of civilians in schools protected under international law”, Anadolu Agency reported that more than 10 civilians were killed in the bombing. RT Arabic and Middle East Eye reported about 12 victims while Arabi 21 and Quds News Network estimated the total number of deaths as 15. Al Jazeera wrote that there were at least 20 killed civilians. Twitter/X user @PalinfoAr shared a heartbreaking video of a mother searching for her children among the dead bodies wrapped in white cloth.

Airwars identified the names of two of the victims killed in the attack  – Sami Mohammed Kalab and Bashir Othamn. Both names were identified from videos and images showing the body bags of the victims.

As no clear information was yet available regarding the number of children killed, and as several sources reported that the majority of the victims were children, Airwars estimated between six and 10 children killed – half of the total numbers of victims reportedly killed.

Dozens of civilians, most of them children, were also reportedly wounded in the attack on the UNRWA school. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported about 35 injured civilians. The Telegram channel of Quds News Network and a Twitter/X account @fouadkhreiss shared videos of the injured children being transported to a hospital. A Twitter/X account @EyeonPalestine shared an emotional video of a young Palestinian boy taking care of his sister injured in the school’s bombing. Al-Jazeera Gaza published a video showing the damage inside the school on Facebook where an eye-witness interviewed  said that women were also among the victims – without providing a number. As such, Airwars estimated that 17 children were injured and at least two women were killed, and two other women injured in the attack. These estimations will be updated once more information comes to light.

The sources differed in their reporting on the nature of the deadly strike. While OCHA, Arabi 21, Safa News and Quds News Network reported that the school was hit by artillery fire, Anadolu Agency referring to a Hamas statement as well as Middle East Eye wrote that it was an airstrike allegedly perpetrated by the Israeli military.

Where sources identified the belligerent, all sources attributed the strikes to Israeli forces. The Israeli military did not comment on the strike.

Due to the scale and urgency of Airwars’ assessment process, all images have been automatically uploaded to each assessment with the graphic filter applied to protect users. We have also included all images identified from the sources, which may also include any imagery of combatants.

The incident occured at approximately 11:52 am local time.

The victims were named as:

Sami Mohammed Kalab سامي محمد كلاب
Age unknown male killed
Bashir Othamn بشير عثمان
Age unknown male killed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian infrastructure
    IDP or refugee camp, School, UN facility
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    12 – 20
  • (6–10 children2 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    35
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Impact
    Education
    Impact on services or infrastructure relating to education, health or food supply. See methodology note for details.
  • Suspected attacker
    Israeli Military

Sources (35) [ collapse]

Media
from sources (19) [ collapse]

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Geolocation notes (3) [ collapse]

Reports of the incident mention the Bureij Preparatory School for Boys (مدرسة البريج في مخيم البريج) in Bureij (البريج). Analysing audio-visual material from sources, we have narrowed the location down to the following exact coordinates: 31.439399, 34.408896.  

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  • Imagery:
    @CensoredNws

  • Imagery:
    @CensoredNws

  • Imagery:
    @CensoredNws

Israeli Military Assessment:

  • Suspected belligerent
    Israeli Military
  • Israeli Military position on incident
    Not yet assessed

Summary

  • Strike status
    Likely strike
  • Strike type
    Airstrike and/or Artillery
  • Civilian infrastructure
    IDP or refugee camp, School, UN facility
  • Civilian harm reported
    Yes
  • Civilians reported killed
    12 – 20
  • (6–10 children2 women)
  • Civilians reported injured
    35
  • Cause of injury / death
    Heavy weapons and explosive munitions
  • Airwars civilian harm grading
    Fair
    Reported by two or more credible sources, with likely or confirmed near actions by a belligerent.
  • Impact
    Education
    Impact on services or infrastructure relating to education, health or food supply. See methodology note for details.
  • Suspected attacker
    Israeli Military

Sources (35) [ collapse]