Dozens killed in Israeli strike on UN school, witnesses say

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Israel bombed a UN schoolhouse sheltering thousands of displaced Palestinians successful cardinal Gaza successful nan early hours of Thursday morning, sidesplitting astatine slightest 33 group including 23 women and children, according to infirmary records and an eyewitness.

The Israeli subject said it targeted “20 aliases 30” Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters who had taken portion successful nan 7 October onslaught and were now utilizing nan schoolhouse arsenic an operations centre. The subject spokesperson Lt Col Peter Lerner said he was not alert of immoderate civilian casualties.

Missiles deed nan 2nd and 3rd floors of nan al-Sardi schoolhouse successful Deir al-Balah, wherever nan UN said astir 6,000 group were living. Unrwa, nan UN agency for Palestinian refugees, called for an investigation into nan attack, pinch scores of group besides reported injured.

Ayman Rashed, a shelter resident displaced from Gaza City, said location had been families successful nan classrooms that were hit, and he helped transportation 5 bodies, including an aged man and 2 children, retired from nan wreckage.

“It was dark, pinch nary electricity, and we struggled to get retired nan victims,” he told nan Associated Press (AP), adding that nan blast had shattered 1 child’s skull open.

Many of nan dormant were taken to al-Aqsa infirmary successful Deir al-Balah, wherever their bodies were lined up successful nan courtyard, videos connected societal media showed. Fourteen children and 9 women were among nan dead, according to an AP newsman and infirmary records.

A US-made missile, nan GBU 39, was utilized successful nan airstrikes connected nan school, fragments captured successful videos and photos from nan tract show. It is nan aforesaid limb utilized to explosive adjacent Unrwa sites successful confederate Gaza past week, an onslaught that caused fires successful crowded shelter areas that killed astatine slightest 45 people.

The Israeli subject said that strike, for illustration nan 1 successful Deir al-Balah, was a precision deed and nan fires whitethorn person been caused by secondary explosions, though nan premier minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, described it arsenic a “tragic mistake”.

International outrage astatine nan onslaught accrued unit connected Israel complete civilian casualties. Days later, nan US president, Joe Biden, announced a caller ceasefire woody that he described arsenic an Israeli proposal. But arsenic negotiators effort to nudge nan woody complete nan line, fighting has intensified successful galore areas of Gaza.

Also connected Thursday night, six victims of different Israeli onslaught connected a location successful Deir al Balah were brought to nan morgue astatine nan hospital. Even earlier those deaths, medics astatine al-Aqsa were struggling to woody pinch a activity of casualties from a caller Israeli violative successful nan area, nan kindness Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF) said.

Eight months into a warfare launched pinch a vow to “destroy Hamas”, nan militant group has proved resilient crossed northbound and cardinal Gaza. Israeli troops redeployed to nan area were facing “guerilla warfare”, Lerner said, pinch mini cells utilizing rocket-propelled grenades, mini arms and explosive devices to attack.

He said 1 of those units was utilizing nan schoolhouse arsenic a bid and power centre, without providing evidence. He besides said Israel had taken steps to protect civilians, including calling disconnected a planned onslaught connected nan aforesaid tract doubly successful erstwhile days.

“[Hamas] understand that we are cautious and observant astir UN facilities, and they are trying efficaciously to usage nan UN accommodation and building arsenic their robust dome,” he said, referring to Israel’s rocket defence system. “They will not person a safe place.”

Hamas officials said its forces were not operating from nan school, nan AP reported.

A kid successful nan debris of a partially destroyed building
Palestinians study nan aftermath of nan Israeli onslaught connected a UN-run school. Photograph: Abdel Kareem Hana/AP

The caput of Unrwa, Philippe Lazzarini, said: “Claims that equipped groups whitethorn person been wrong nan shelter are shocking. We are, however, incapable to verify these claims.

“Unrwa shares nan coordinates of each its accommodation – including this schoolhouse – pinch nan Israeli service and different parties to nan conflict. Targeting UN premises aliases utilizing them for subject purposes cannot go nan caller norm.”

Schools and exile shelters are among civilian buildings granted typical protection successful conflict nether world law. Israel says Hamas exploits this protection, illegally utilizing nan buildings – and civilians wrong arsenic quality shields.

The Unrwa communications director, Juliette Touma, said nan schoolhouse was “possibly deed respective times” and nan number of reported dormant was betwixt 35 and 45, pinch scores much group injured. The UN has not been capable to corroborate casualty figures.

Since nan commencement of nan warfare much than 170 Unrwa buildings person been hit, nan “vast majority” schools turned into shelters. These attacks person killed much than 450 displaced group surviving location and injured astir 1,500.

“We telephone for investigations into each violations against nan United Nations including attacks connected our buildings,” Touma said.

The onslaught deed al-Sardi schoolhouse astatine astir 1.30am section clip (2330 BST), erstwhile group sheltering location were asleep, nan journalist Hind Khoudary said successful a video taken astatine nan schoolhouse that shows pools of humor beside mattresses successful a room deed by a missile.

In nan courtyard below, children and adults mill around, adjacent balconies hung pinch bedding and washing. “Children, women are terrified, but unluckily they don’t person anyplace to go. They are still sheltering successful nan school,” she said.

MSF said astatine slightest 70 bodies and much than 300 wounded group had already been brought to al-Aqsa curen centre connected Wednesday, pushing nan battered aesculapian strategy successful nan area to nan constituent of collapse.

With nan Rafah crossing to Egypt closed, location are nary longer aesculapian evacuations for nan astir severely injured.

Two of nan children laid retired dormant successful al-Aqsa infirmary aft erstwhile strikes had died beside their mother, Abu Mohammed Abu Saif, their father, told Reuters. “This is not war, it is demolition that words are incapable to express,” he said.

Israel’s subject battle connected Gaza has killed much than 36,000 people, mostly civilians, according to wellness officials successful nan territory, who opportunity thousands much dormant are buried nether nan rubble.

The warfare was sparked by an onslaught by Hamas successful confederate Israel successful October past year, erstwhile militants killed astir 1,200 group and took 250 hostage.

On Wednesday two nutrient information reports said galore Palestinians successful Gaza had been killed by months of utmost hunger, and imperishable harm had been caused to children done malnutrition, moreover earlier famine is officially declared.

The US-based famine early informing strategy network, Fews Net, said it was “possible, if not likely” that famine began successful bluish Gaza successful April. Two UN organisations said much than 1 cardinal group were “expected to look decease and starvation” by mid-July. Israel controls nan introduction of nutrient assistance aesculapian supplies and substance to Gaza.

Additional reporting by Helen Livingstone, Manisha Ganguly and Elena Morressi

Source theguardian