The Destruction of Education in Gaza

January 25, 2024

As we return to classes in North America, we do so in grief and outrage knowing that the fabric of education in Gaza has been torn by death and destruction. According to a January report, the Israeli army has killed at least 94 university professors, 4,327 students, and 231 teachers and administrators since October. Schools and universities have become barracks and detention centers. 

In a recent visit to Gaza, Phillippe Lazzarini, Commissioner General for UNRWA, declared, “I’m afraid that we’re running the risk here of losing a generation of children” made up of more than half a million children in the primary and secondary school system. Education is at the heart of society, and this is especially true for a population as young as Gaza’s, in which about half of the population are children. Destroying precious institutions like schools, universities, libraries, museums, and after-school programs constitutes a massive and catastrophic educational loss for the future that will have consequences for decades to come. The destruction of educational systems is also analyzed as part of South Africa’s accusation of genocide against Israel at the International Court of Justice. 

According to Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, in this war, schools have become shelters and Israeli detention and torture centers. On December 30, UN OCHA reported that 90% of schools were being used as shelters, and many had sustained damage. According to Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, Israel has “systematically destroyed every university in the Gaza Strip in stages over the course of the more than 100-day attack.” Early in the war, on October 9, Israel bombed the Islamic University, the largest university in Gaza, and Al-Azhar University. On December 10, Israel destroyed the medical school of the Islamic University. Israel blew up Al-Israa University in Gaza on January 18, 2024, after having used it as a military base and detention center. According to the South African petition, 74% of schools in Gaza have been damaged or