UNITED NATIONS - A war-damaged school in Gaza Strip, refurbished mainly with a $50,000 contribution made by Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, was reopened Sunday by Pierre Krahenbuhl, head of the UN agency assisting Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.

The Khuza'a elementary co-ed school in eastern Khan Younis, which hosts over 1,100 students, was hit by Israeli bombing during last summer's conflict in which over 2,200 Palestinians were killed and many more injured and maimed. The bombing demolished an entire wing of classrooms, a toilet block and a boundary wall. There was also some damage caused by ordnance and small arms fire.

The students returned to classroom in mid-March. Malala donated her entire monetary award from the prestigious World's Children's Prize for refurbishment.

While reopening the school, Krahenbuhl, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, paid tributes to Malala for her generous contribution, saying, "She is a role model for millions, including for Palestinian girls and boys."

The building was one of 83 schools impacted during the hostilities, a UNRWA press release said. Damage and destruction to the Khuza'a school occurred on or about 28 July 2014, in contravention of the inviolability of UN premises under international law, it was pointed out.

When she made the announcement of the donation, Malala said: “The needs are overwhelming – more than half of Gaza’s population is under 18 years of age. They want and deserve quality education, hope and real opportunities to build a future. This funding will help rebuild the 83 schools damaged during the recent conflict. Innocent Palestinian children have suffered terribly and for too long. We must all work to ensure Palestinian boys and girls, and all children everywhere, receive a quality education in a safe environment. Because without education, there will never be peace. Let us stand together for peace and education because together we are more powerful.”

In the immediate aftermath of the ceasefire on 26 August 2014, UNRWA began repair works on all damaged schools in Gaza, including Khuza’s. 240,000 students were able to start the school year in September, though many could not immediately do so in their usual school buildings.

“I am very pleased to reopen this school in Gaza today, after the damage it sustained during the height of the conflict. Those were very dark days for children in Gaza,” said Krahenbuhl, Commissioner-General of UNRWA. "It is heartening to witness the return to school here of 1,100 Palestine refugee children and the fact that our premise is once again a ground of learning. This would not have been possible without the important support of our donors.

Our special gratitude also goes to Malala Yousafzai for her most generous contribution. She is a role model for millions including for Palestinian girls and boys. I am also thankful to UNRWA staff in Gaza for their considerable efforts in carrying out the repair work.”

During the ceremony, Ms Rua’ Kdeih an eleven-year old Khuza'a student, read a poem about courage and steadfastness. These words were from a partially burned notebook of hers found by UNRWA staff during a visit to the school after it was damaged. Rua' and her family had to flee their home during the war and lived with relatives, displaced like hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza.

At the ceremony she spoke confidently, saying she had always known she would one day be back in her school. The Commissioner-General visited Rua's classroom and talked with students about the importance of hope and pursuing their dreams despite the current extreme hardship in Gaza.