A United Nations official has broken down live on air as he talked about a deadly attack on a school in Gaza.
Chris Gunness wept uncontrollably as he discussed the Israeli shelling during an interview with Al Jazeera Arabic on Wednesday.
According to Gaza's Ministry of Health, at least 17 people were killed and 90 wounded in the shelling of the Jabalia Elementary Girls School early on Wednesday morning.
UN Relief and Works spokesman Chris Gunness broke down during an interview with Al Jazeera Arabic
Addressing the camera, Gunness says: “The rights of Palestinians even their children, are wholesale denied… and it’s appalling.”
The Relief and Works Agency spokesman then bites his lip and clears his throat as he attempts to compose himself.
The interviewer appears to thank him and Gunness manages to utter the words: “My pleasure” before placing his head in his hands and sobbing.
Gunness had earlier been struggling to contain himself
Someone rushes over to comfort him and the camera pans away, though Gunness can still be heard weeping.
Speaking to Buzzfeed after the incident, Gunness said that UNRWA is “completely overwhelmed” and “at breaking point” having lost five UNRWA workers in Gaza in the conflict.
But he insisted he would continue his work, stating: “I’m not emotionally drained. I’m made of a sterner stuff, as my English grandmother would say.”
He added: “My feelings pale into insignificance compared to the enormity of the tragedy confronting each and every other person in Gaza at this time.
“It’s important to humanise the statistics and to realise that there is a human being with a heart and soul behind each statistic and that the humanity that lies behind these statistics should never be forgotten.”
Gunness later tweeted that the precise location of the school and the fact that it was housing 3,000 displaced people had been communicated to the Israeli army 17 times to ensure its protection.
Precise location of Jabalia Elementary Girls School #Gaza & that it housed 3,000 displaced was communicated to Israeli army 17 times RT
— Chris Gunness (@ChrisGunness) July 30, 2014
UNRWA commissioner-general Pierre Krahenbuhl released a statement condemning the attack as a “serious violation of international law.”
“Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to us all, source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.”
Blood and and discarded belongings are left behind at a UN school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, 24 July
Pools of blood stained the school courtyard in the northern town of Beit Hanoun, amid scattered books and children’s belongings.
The Israeli military has said it was reviewing the incident, claiming that rockets launched by Hamas had landed in the Beit Hanoun area during fighting with its forces and that those rockets may be responsible for the deaths.
Israel insists it does its utmost to prevent civilian casualties but says Hamas puts Palestinians in danger by hiding arms and fighters in civilian areas.
An estimated 1,200 Palestinians and 55 Israelis have been killed in the conflict.
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