The United Nations reported on Monday that over 123,000 individuals have been forced to flee their homes in the Gaza Strip since the outbreak of the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants.
“Over 123,538 people, have been internally displaced in Gaza, mostly due to fear, protection concerns and the destruction of their homes,” said the UN’s humanitarian agency, OCHA, with more than 73,000 sheltering in schools.
Israel has launched hundreds of strikes on Gaza since Saturday following attacks launched by Hamas militants in Israel.
Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), said he expected the numbers to rise further.
“There’s electricity in these schools, we provide them with a meal, clean water, psychological support and medical treatment,” he told AFP.
Gaza is home to 2.3 million Palestinians, who have lived under a crippling blockade imposed by Israel since 2007.
‘Civilians must be protected’
A United Nations school sheltering displaced families in the Gaza Strip was directly hit by Israeli airstrike on Sunday, the agency said in a statement.
The school which was providing refuge to more than 225 people was severely damaged, according to the UN Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA). No casualties were reported.
The number of Palestinians forced to flee their homes in search of safety has “significantly increased” overnight, the agency said.
“Nearly 74,000 displaced people are now in 64 UNRWA shelters, with numbers likely to increase as heavy shelling and airstrikes continue, including on civilian areas,” the UNRWA said in a statement.
“Civilians must be protected at all times, including during fighting. Schools and other civilian infrastructure, including those sheltering displaced families, must never come under attack.”