Bombing Khaled Ibn Al Walid school in HajjahJune 12, 2023
Khalid Ibn al Walid school in Hayran district of Hajjah governorate had been hit by missile strikes, in conjunction with military battles in the western districts of Hajjah.
- Incident: Bombing Khaled Ibn Al Walid school in Hajjah
- Type: Missile attack
- Location: Ad Danana village (Bani Al-Mokhawi), Bani Fadel area, Hayran district, Hajjah governorate
- Date: between 07 and 18 February 2022
- Time: between 12 at night and dawn
- Casualties: No casualties reported
- Probable ammunition: unknown
- Probable responsibility: Ansar Allah Houthi forces
On 18 February 2022, local media reported that Khalid Ibn al Walid school in Hayran district of Hajjah governorate had been hit by missile strikes, in conjunction with military battles in the western districts of Hajjah. The incident resulted in partial damage to the school.
Yemeni Archive investigated the bombing based on:
● Collecting, preserving, and analyzing 32 videos, photos, and reports, published on social media platforms. These are related to the incident, the region, and the general and military context in Hayran district, providing information about the impact and destruction, and the possible launch path.
● Determining the impact location and the time based on the available information and comparing the landmarks in the visual content with satellite images.
● Determining the probable type of ammunition by analyzing the mechanism of explosion, the destruction, and the fragments in the visual content.
● Determining the areas of military control of the conflicting parties surrounding the impact site by tracking the lines of engagement, military fortifications, and information on the development of military events in Yemen.
The impact site
Ad Danana village is located in Bani Fadel area of Hajjah governorate bordering Saudi Arabia, and it is one of the villages of Hayran district in northern Yemen. Hayran district borders Midi district on the west, and Haradh district on the east, where the three districts form the hotspot in Hajjah governorate, and the site of military confrontations between Ansar Allah al-Houthi forces and the Yemeni government forces supported by forces from the Saudi led coalition.
An image from Google Maps showing the location of Khaled Ibn Al Walid school in Hayran district, Hajjah Governorate Taken by the Yemeni Archive in January 2023.
The bombing of Khaled Ibn Al Walid school coincided with a military escalation in Hajjah governorate, including in Hayran district, between government forces and the Houthis. As a result, there were multiple reports of shelling, including on civilian neighborhoods and areas in Hayran.
The control and engagement points in the area show that any of the conflicting parties can bomb the school because it is within the control of the government forces, and within the range of medium weapons such as missiles and heavy artillery for the Houthi forces, whose nearest military positions are located 14 km away from the school.
An approximate map was created that indicates the areas controlled by each of the parties by Yemeni Archive, based on preliminary information from the Maps and Wars Twitter account of the military situation in the region during that period. This is in addition to satellite images from Google Earth showing accurate tracking of the fortifications and earthen berms, their directions and the roads that lead to them from the location of each party’s control.
A satellite image from Google Earth showing an approximate map of military control based on the presence of earthen berms and fortifications by government forces (green) and Ansar Allah Houthi forces (red) in Hajjah Governorate near the Yemeni-Saudi border. Satellite image taken Sept 2022, Visualisation created by Yemeni Archive on 23 Jan 2023
Local media determined the location of Khaled Ibn Al Walid school in Ad Danana village, but the name of the school’s village in Google Maps data was Bani al Makhawi. For consistency, this investigation will refer to the name of this school as the name used in the local media: Ad Danana in Bani Fadel area.
What (and when)
On 18 February 2022, Al-Mahria TV published a video report documenting the bombing of Khaled Ibn Al Walid school in Ad Danana, Hayran District, Hajjah Governorate, northern Yemen. The documentation showed partial destruction in the school and did not mention any injuries in its report. Local media circulated the news widely two days after the bombing.
A screenshot from Al-Mahria TV tweet, in which they attached a video showing the damage to the school on February 18, 2022. Accessed by Yemeni Archive in January 2023.
Two days after the bombing, Rashed Maarouf, a military reporter in the government’s Fifth Military Region reported in a tweet, that the bombing took place shortly after the students left the school, and shared photos of the destruction and showed a similar building to that which appeared in Al Mahria TV video.
A screenshot of tweet by Rashid Maarouf’s, a military reporter in the Fifth Military Region in Hajjah Governorate. The tweet, published on 20 February 2022, states that the bombing of the school occurred shortly after the students left the school.
News of the bombing was published while military operations were taking place in the districts of Hayran and Haradh in Hajjah Governorate, with news of missile and aircraft bombing operations in the districts during February 2022.
According to the available online information, the attack hit Khaled Ibn Al Walid school in Hayran district, north of Hajjah. Searching in Google Maps, the Yemeni Archive team could not find a village or a school in Hayran district with the names mentioned by the media. However, the name of Ad Danana village was used in official news that covered humanitarian activities in the district. Other villages mentioned along with Ad Danana enabled us to determine the scope of a spatial search for schools in the district and match them with visual content.
Landmarks near the school included hangars in agricultural lands, which appeared in a photo published by Abdul Hafeez Al-Hatami on Twitter. Yemeni Archive searched through satellite images from Google Earth to identify imagery of most of the schools in the area - finding landmarks of a school next to hangars in named Bani al Makhawi school, at coordinates: 16.259604, 42.969368.
A Google Earth satellite image of the matching school taken in October 2020, a screenshot from ”Abdul Hafeez Al-Hatami ” Twitter account posted on 20 February 2022, and a screenshot from ”Osama Farraj’s” YouTube video posted on 8 March 2022, about 18 days after the first publication of scenes from the school via the Al-Mahria channel. Corresponding visible features lead the Yemeni Archive to determine the location matches those present in the documented scenes of the incident.
A satellite image from Google Earth taken in September 2022, 7 months after the incident, showing damage to the school’s roof in a form showing what appears to be identical to that shown by the documented scenes of the school’s roof.
Information regarding the date and time of the incident are conflicting. The first reports of the incident were on 18 February 2022 which as a Friday, is a day off. Other reports regarding the incident were published two days later on February 20, stating that the incident took place after the students left the school, which might have been an indication that the timing of the incident was on a day in which school hours were observed.
The length of the shadow of the wall on the school’s roof, which is estimated to be half the actual height of the wall in Osamah Fraaj’s video, indicates that the estimated time for Farraj’s video filming was between 12:00 and 01:00 pm, based on calculations by ShadowCalculator.
Screenshot from “Osama al-Faraj” video posted on 8 March 2022 on YouTube, which shows the length of the shadows compared to the height of the wall. The direction of north was placed by the Yemeni Archive in order to distinguish directions.
A screenshot from ShadowCalculator showing the likely shooting time by comparing the size of the shadow in the previous screenshot to the height of the wall using this tool. The Yemeni Archive created the screenshot in January 2023.
The impact of the bombing shown in Farraj’s video contains scenes identical to Al Mahria video. The shots from both videos inside the burning rooms show that the fire had already been extinguished for a long time. There were no fumes or other indicators indicating recent extinguishing processes, such as water or foam, and the objects in the rooms and the outer corridor appear to have been there for a long time. The impact of fragments on the roof walls, however, appear to have been created recently seems recent. This leads Yemeni Archive to conclude that the incident may have taken place many hours or even days before noon on the specified day.
In order to determine a possible time range for the bombing, it was necessary to track the military context in Hajjah districts and the reported bombing operations in Hayran district. Clashes broke out in the districts of Haradh and Hayran on 4 February 2022, after a long pause. The missile and artillery shelling in Hayran, far from the frontlines, were first reported on 7 February 2022, with missile strikes on targets described by pro-Houthi sources as weapons stores. Others claimed it was a gathering in the outskirts and north of Hayran district. The Saudi led coalition confirmed that the Houthis used ballistic missiles in an attack, less than an hour after news reports were published, without mentioning Hayran district.
A screenshot from the Secret Police’s Twitter account published on 7 February 2022, describing the attack on weapons stores and on a gathering on the outskirts of Hayran district
A screenshot from Abo_Masirah Twitter account published on 7 February 2022 describing attack on weapons depots north of Hayran district.
A screenshot of a tweet by Al-Hadath_Ymn, published less than an hour after the incident, on 7 February 2022, quoting a statement by the coalition forces confirming the bombing.
As for the second incident, the media reported that the village of Bani Al-Zain in Bani Fadel of Hayran district was hit by a missile on 14 February 2022. The village is located in the same area as the school.
A screenshot from the Taiz News Network’s tweet published on 14 February 2022, stating that there was an operation to bomb the Bani al Zein village in Hayran district. The village of Bani Al-Zein is a village within the district of Bani Fadel, in which the school is located.
The village of Bani Al Zein is located, according to the information of OpenStreetMap, in an area close to the school. By comparing the scenes from the village in a video of Al-Mahria TV with satellite images from Google Earth, it is possible to determine that the filming location is located at coordinates: 16.238050, 43.015581, in Hayran District, 5.5 km southwest of Khaled Ibn Al-Walid School.
Google Earth satellite image of Bani Al-Zein village taken in October 2022. Screenshots from Al-Mahria YouTube channel video posted on 14 February 2022, four days before the reports about the bombing of the school, which is approximately 5.5 km away from the village.
According to testimony by civilians in Al Mahria TV report, the shelling of the village took place at midnight on 13 February 2022 and the early hours of 14 of February 2022. A person claimed in a video by the Media Center of the Fifth Military Region - Hajjah that the shelling was not the only one and that there were also missiles that fell near the village. The video’s was published to YouTube on 14 February 2022.
The earliest report about the bombing in Hayran district, before the school was reported, was at 01:20 on 17 February 2022, about 35 hours before the time mentioned by the media. It was published by the Nabd Harf Twitter account that was created in conjunction with the Hajjah battles. Most of this account covers news relating to the three districts located there. This tweet referred to the artillery shelling launched allegedly by the Houthi forces on the positions of the government forces in Hayran from the south and north directions.
Screenshot of the tweet of the account (apparently fake or automated) of Nabd Harf regarding the bombing of the Hayran district at dawn on 17 February 2022, a day and a half before the school bombing was reported.
There was a vague tweet referring to the bombing of targets in Hayran, one hour and 20 minutes after the previous tweet, posted by Ali Badawi Fleih’s Twitter account, which is a news account, as indicated in the description of the account. It said, “Tonight, targets are in Hayran.”
A screenshot of a tweet by Ali Badawi Fleih indicating that there was shelling on targets in Hayran at dawn on 17 February 2022
The aforementioned tweets show that there was limited information available regarding the exact time of the bombing of Khalid Ibn Al-Walid School. Reliance on tracking the military context and bombing operations produced several possibilities, but it was difficult to adopt one of them conclusively. It is therefore possible to expect the bombing to have occurred within a time range extending from 7 February 2022, when the first bombing of Hayran was reported to noon on 18 February 2022.
Local media circulated a statement by the Director of the Education in Hayran district after the bombing of Khaled Ibn Al Walid school, in which he said that the bombing stopped the educational process in the school and deprived more than 200 male and female students of education in the school.
A video report by Balqees TV, published on 3 December 2022, documented the education situation in the areas controlled by the Yemeni government in Hajjah Governorate. The report showed children students who said they were in Bani al Makhawi village receiving education in a makeshift school with tents. The tents that appeared in the video helped to identify the area as located along the side road leading to Khaled Ibn Al Walid school, between the neighboring villages at coordinates: 16.263729, 42.980288, approximately 1.2 km west of the school.
Screenshots from Balqees TV video published on 3 December 2022, showing the tents being used for education as an alternative site to the school in Bani Al-Mokhawi village. Satellite image from Google Earth of the tent site was taken in September 2022.
Screenshots from Balqees TV video published on 3 December 2022, showing the tents used for education as an alternative to the school in Bani al Makhawi village, and a satellite image from Google Earth of the tents location was taken in September 2022.
A satellite image from Google Earth taken in September 2022 showing the distance between Khalid Ibn al Walid school and the tents location, approximately 1.2 km away.
Yemeni Archive also searched for any content that supported the official statement of the Education Office in Hayran about educational activities and the stability of the educational process in Khaled Ibn Al Walid School, but did not find corroborating information indicating the presence of students in the school at the time when government forces took control of the area in August 2018 to the time when the bombing occurred. As a result, it can not be said conclusively that the educational process in the school were affected by the incident despite the Yemen Shabab account said, quoting local sources, that the attack took place shortly after the students left.
A screenshot of a tweet by Yemen Shabab account, published on 20 February 2022, in which it stated, quoting local sources, that the attack took place shortly after the students left
The visual content shows that a projectile penetrated the concrete roof of the school and a wall between the room on which the projectile landed and the one adjacent to it. It also shows indicators consistent with a fire having broken out in the two rooms, destroying its contents including textbooks, educational supplies, and office furniture. The staircase room and the roof appear to have collapsed, parts of the roof wall were destroyed, and some windows and doors were damaged and shattered.
Screenshots from Fraaj YouTube video posted on 8 March 2022, showing the destruction and fire caused in the school
A screenshot from al Mahria YouTube video posted on 18 February 2022 showing some of the school’s destroyed, burned office furniture lying in the school yard and some fallen concrete blocks.
Some local media claimed that a ballistic missile hit Khaled Ibn Al Walid School, however the visual content did not show any remnants of munitions that would support this claim or help in identifying the type of munition used.
The characteristics of the destruction, such as the diameter of the hole, the trajectory of the fragments, and the damage of varying sizes in various directions appear consistent to those seen in similar footage of impact sites of shells and missiles of 122 mm caliber or higher.
A screenshot of a tweet from Yemen Shabab TV , published on 20 February2022, claiming that the school was hit by a ballistic missile
Screenshots from Fraaj’s YouTube video posted on 8 March 2022. These show how the fragments flew in a destructive mechanism similar to what BM-21 122mm Grad rocket ammunition and 122mm howitzer shells do when they explode
The attack of Khaled Ibn Al Walid School in Hayran coincided with battles taking place between government forces backed by the Saudi led Coalition and the Houthi Ansar Allah forces, which were mainly occurring in Haradh city, with secondary confrontations in Hayran district.
The visual content in the Fraaj video provided indicators that might enable the determination of the projectile’s arrival, from the southeast. This can be determined by calculating the angle created by two holes left by the projectile’s penetration of the roof and the inner wall.
The video documented the damage caused by the bombing in the school room from different angles, inside and out. Yemeni Archive identified what appears to be the identical shape of the windows and the iron bars in all three shots. The interior shots to the left of the window show a hole in the wall separating the two rooms opposite the main penetration position from the roof in a trajectory showing the direction of the projectile’s arrival (the firing direction).
A screenshot from Fraaj YouTube video posted on 8 March 2022, showing the room damaged by the projectile’s direct fall from an external shot, and the window with the remaining iron bars. Green square: penetration hole from the roof. Red square: the window and bars. Annotations added by Yemeni Archive.
A screenshot from Fraaj’s video on YouTube published on 8 March 2022, showing the room impacted by the direct fall of the projectile in an interior shot and the window, as well as a part of the hole in the wall separating the two rooms to the left of the window, which appears more clearly in the screenshot below. Green: penetration hole in the roof. Red: the window and bars. Blue: a part of the hole in the wall. White: a part of an iron object that appears in the clearer in the screenshot below. Annotations added by Yemeni Archive.
A screenshot from Fraaj video on YouTube , published on 8 March 2022, showing the room impacted by the direct fall of the projectile in an interior shot, the window, and bars, as well a hole in the wall separating the two rooms to the left of the window, and the wall and the iron object. Red: the window and bars. Blue: a part of the hole in the wall. White: the iron object. Annotations added by Yemeni Archive.
By drawing a line connecting the two holes, the direction of entry from the southeast of the school can be determined, as shown in the image below.
Screenshots from Fraaj video posted on 8 March 2022, showing the angle formed by the holes when the projectile penetrated the roof of the school and the wall separating the two rooms. Annotations added by Yemeni Archive.
The nearest military site for the Houthi forces is located in the southeast, approximately 17 km from Khaled Ibn Al Walid school, separated from the government forces by an empty agricultural area of 1.4 km. A maximum firing range for the BM-21 Grad missile is 21 km. This maximum range included approximately 4 km under the control of the Houthis, while the larger area falls under the range of government forces.
A satellite image from Google Earth taken in September 2022, showing the positions of the Houthi forces (red squares) and the positions of the Yemeni government forces (green squares) at the closest point of engagement to Khaled Ibn Al-Walid School, according to the directions of the military fortifications in the area and the roads leading to it. Annotations added by Yemeni Archive.
A satellite image from Google Earth taken in September 2022, showing an approximate map of military control based on the directions of the earthen berms and fortifications of the government forces (green) and Ansar Allah Houthi forces (red), and the range of the missile (white) from the southeast direction of the school, based on the line connecting the two craters formed by the projectile penetration. Annotations added by Yemeni Archive in January 2023.
Satellite images show the development of a site surrounded by dirt berms that was built between March and October 2020, about 100 meters in front of the school, with vehicles in the site, near and inside the school yard. The site features correspond to the patterns used in the military sites within the government control areas in Hayran district.
Two satellite images from Google Earth showing the construction of what appears to be a military site surrounded by berms, with vehicles in the site, near and inside the school yard between March and October 2020.
Satellite images from Google Earth taken in January 2022 and March 2020 of a military site of the government forces in Hayran district, which corresponds to the pattern (dirt berms) with that near the school
The images below show many vehicles near the school, as well as a large vehicle about 6 meters long and about 2.2 meters wide among the gathering. Vehicles of this size appeared in Hayran district of Hajjah governorate with government forces, such as large transport trucks and Oshkosh M-ATV armored military vehicles, both of which belong to the Saudi forces, and were provided to the Yemeni forces there.
Google Earth image taken in October 2020 showing the school, the newly constructed site, and the vehicles parked between them
Google Earth images taken in October 2020 showing the dimensions of a vehicle parked near the military site opposite the school. The images were created by the Yemeni Archive in February 2023.
A photo from Al Shahed News website published in August 2018, of an Oshkosh military vehicle with government forces in Hajjah Governorate. This is a vehicle of similar size to the vehicle that appeared in satellite images from Google Earth parked near the school in October 2020.
Screenshots from a video by the Media Center of the Fifth Military Region published in August 2018, showing a military transport truck in Hayran District that set off with a group of military vehicles carrying relief materials from the vicinity of Khaled Ibn Al-Walid School.
The attack resulted in damage to the Khaled Ibn Al Walid School in Ad Danana village in Bani Fadel area, Hayran district, northwest of Hajjah governorate. The attack occurred between 07-18 February 2022. The Houthis may be responsible for the attack, and it appears that there were military activities and government military presence near Khaled Ibn Al Walid School. Whether the school was in operation during the time of the attack was unable to be determined by open source content alone.