They do not know when – or if – they will be able to return to their familiar hallways and classrooms.
Despite their worries, like all pupils in Gaza, they began the academic year on August 16. However, classes took place in different schools, as their original educational facilities remain under investigation.
The chain of events started in May as an "Israeli" air strike damaged two, side-by-side, United Nations schools in the neighborhood of Zeitoun, Gaza: the Preparatory Boys’ School “A” and the Elementary Boys’ School “A”. Both operate under the United Nations Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA].
Two weeks after a ceasefire, while assessing the damage and how to safeguard the premises from missiles, UN personnel found a cavity 7.5 meters in depth. And, from there, things quickly escalated.
With 278 schools across the strip and nearly 10,000 people serving as teaching personnel, UNRWA is responsible for the basic education of more than 290,000 Palestinian students.
Because of the shortage of facilities, some UNRWA schools operate on double and, more rarely, even triple shifts.
During “Israel’s” latest attack on Gaza, at least 51 educational facilities were damaged, including a UNRWA training center, 46 schools, two kindergartens and parts of the Islamic University of Gaza.
“To be a child in Gaza today means that you have inevitably witnessed a level of trauma that your peers elsewhere in the world have not,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini in early July.
In a report issued in the same month, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said 91 percent of Gaza children suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] after the 11-day “Israeli” aggression in May.
According to the report, the recent “Israeli” attack had a huge effect on children: 41 lost one or both parents, almost 50,000 had their homes partially or completely destroyed, and thousands remain displaced.