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Why are so many civilians dying in Hamas-Israel war?

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More than 1.8 million people live in Gaza, which is 139 square miles in total land area. That makes for very cramped living. When airstrikes happen, when shells land, having more people in a small area often means higher death tolls.

And even if Palestinians receive and heed warnings to change locations before an airstrike hits, it’s likely they’ll have nowhere safe to run. There are no bomb shelters or warning sirens in Gaza. And it’s practically impossible to leave. There’s a barrier fence around the perimeter of Gaza. Israel controls all air access to Gaza and land access along their border. Egypt controls access on the southern border and that crossing is also closed.

United Nations schools in Gaza – with clear U.N. markings – have been turned into shelters during the conflict, and for a while they were considered safe. But strikes have recently hit several of those locations, killing and injuring many, including women and children.

Each side blames the other. In some cases, Israel has said Hamas rockets were launched and fell short, landing on the schools, and stressed that it uses “precision” airstrikes. Regarding shells that fell in the vicinity of a school on Sunday, killing at least nine people, the IDF said it targeted three Palestinian Islamic Jihad members riding a motorcycle in the vicinity of the school. It said it’s reviewing the incident.

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