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UN Official Chris Gunness Breaks Down & Sobs Uncontrollably Over Israeli Shelling Of Gaza School (VIDEO)

31/07/2014 09:54 BST | Updated 07/08/2014 14:59 BST

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.

chris gunness

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.

chris gunness

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.”

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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.

An Israeli military spokesman told the New York Times that Israeli troops did not target UN facilities, but did respond to Palestinian militant fire from nearby the school in Jabalia refugee camp.

UNRWA commissioner-general Pierre Krahenbuhl released a statement condemning the attack as a “serious violation of international law.”

He said: “… Children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN designated shelter in Gaza.

“Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to us all, source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.”

Last week Israeli tank shells hit another UN-run school, leaving 15 people dead and wounding dozens who were seeking shelter from fierce clashes on the street outside.

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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.

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES

UN School In Gaza