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Gaza children unable to go back to school
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  • 09:08 22 August 2014
Gaza children unable to go back to school
The United Nations estimates that at least 231 schools have been damaged in Gaza during Israel's ongoing offensive
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By Fares Akram

Shujayea, Gaza City - AL JAZEERA - Ahmed al-Arqan, 54, sits under the roof of what used to be his family's home: The three-story house, where he and his five brothers lived with their families in the eastern Shujayea neighbourhood of Gaza City, was almost entirely destroyed by an Israeli missile shot from an F16 warplane.

A math teacher, al-Arqan was meant to return to school in less than a week. But as violence has resumed in Gaza after the breakdown of ceasefire talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Cairo, the school year has been postponed indefinitely in the besieged Palestinian territory.

"Teachers and students need at least three weeks before returning to school," al-Arqan told Al Jazeera. "The authorities should also remove some parts of the curriculum to make it lighter for the children."

The Israeli assault on Gaza, which started on July 8, has to date killed over 2,000 Palestinians, including at least 459 children, and injured another 10,300, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians have also been killed.

In Gaza, electricity has been cut off for at least 12 hours each day, the UN reported, after Israeli tank shells hit the strip's sole power plant on July 29, while damage to local water infrastructure is now estimated to cost about $34m.

Israeli fire also hit three UN-run schools acting as shelters in the northern Gaza Strip and in the southern border town of Rafah during attacks in August, killing at least 46 people.

"I'm psychologically exhausted because the war is not yet over... We did not relax during the summer holiday. Our clothes and belongings remain under the rubble... We escaped with the clothes we were wearing and our ID cards," al-Arqan explained.

I'm psychologically exhausted because the war is not yet over... We did not relax during the summer holiday. Our clothes and belongings remain under the rubble.

- Ahmed al-Arqan, math teacher

At least 231 schools have been damaged during the Israeli offensive, while approximately 380,000 Palestinians in Gaza are currently seeking shelter at UN or government-run schools, or with host families.

"Teachers need a vacation each year so that they can teach well... This year, our trip was with death and destruction," said al-Arqan, as he surveyed the debris around his home.

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