SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: January 24, 2024

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Khan Younis Training Center

Region & Country:Western Asia | Palestine (OPT)

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 24, 2024, the UN reported that direct fire had struck UNRWA’s Khan Younis Training Center, which provides post-secondary training and vocational education and was serving as a shelter for around 800 displaced Palestinians at the time of the attack.

According to UNRWA, 13 people sheltering at the training center were killed and 56 injured. The agency reported that military activity had directly and indirectly impacted the center twenty-two times since October 7, and that the January 24 strike was the third direct hit. UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini condemned the attack as “a blatant disregard of basic rules of war,” and stated that the center had been clearly marked as a UN facility and its coordinates had been shared with the Israeli military.

The Israeli military denied targeting the training center and stated that it was reviewing military operations in the area and examining whether Hamas fire had struck the center.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the targeting of university facilities in armed conflict. Parties to a conflict may only attack legitimate military targets; where a party suspects that a civilian facility—such as a university building or vocational training center—is being used for military purposes, that party has a duty to take every action practicable to verify that this suspicion is correct before initiating an attack. In the event of such an attack, parties must take all practicable precautions to avoid or minimize damage to civilian facilities. Further, parties must refrain from launching attacks which may be expected to cause disproportionate damage to civilian facilities.

Sources:
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)
https://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/official-statements/khan-younis-one-largest-unrwa-shelters-hit-during-military-operations
https://www.cnn.com/2024/01/24/middleeast/khan-younis-gaza-un-shelter-strike-intl/index.html
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-68078580
https://www.voanews.com/a/tank-shelling-kills-9-wounds-75-at-un-training-center-in-southern-gaza-/7455717.html