JERUSALEM (JTA) — The United Nations has backed off a claim that Israel struck one of its schools in Gaza.
The Jan. 6 incident, in which 43 Palestinians were killed, has been a major point of contention between Israel and the United Nations over the Gaza military operation.
The U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Jerusalem, Maxwell Gaylord, said Monday that the Israeli mortar shells landed in the street near the United Nations Relief and Works Agency school in Gaza and not inside the school, which was sheltering Palestinian refugees, Ha’aretz reported.
In the hours following the strike and ever since, the United Nations, the media and Palestinians in Gaza have accused Israel of striking the school. Israeli army officials have said previously that the two mortar shells could not have done the damage and caused the deaths that occurred near the school. Officials also have maintained that they did not target the school but fired in the direction of Hamas gunfire.
A teacher inside the school compound at the time of the airstrike told Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper last week that no one was killed inside the compound in the wake of the attack.