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Israel-Hamas war: Israeli strike on Gaza school kills more than 30

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — An Israeli strike Thursday morning on a school housing displaced Palestinians in central Gaza killed more than 30 people, including 23 women and children, according to local health officials. The Israeli military said Hamas militants were operating from inside the school.

The strike comes after the army announced a new ground and air attack on several refugee camps in central Gaza, pursuing Hamas militants who they say have regrouped there. It is the latest example of troops returning to sections of the Gaza Strip they had previously invaded, underscoring the militant group’s resilience despite Israel’s efforts. an attack lasting almost eight months on the territory.

Witnesses and hospital officials said the pre-dawn strike hit the al-Sardi school, run by the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, known by the acronym UNRWA. The school was filled with Palestinians who had fled Israeli offensives and bombings in northern Gaza, they said.

Ayman Rashed, a displaced man from Gaza City who was sheltering in the school, said the missiles hit classrooms on the second and third floors where families were sheltering. He said he helped evacuate five dead people, including an old man and two children, one with a broken head. “It was dark, with no electricity, and we had difficulty getting the victims out,” Rashed said.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the nearby town of Deir al-Balah recorded at least 33 deaths following the strike, including 14 children and nine women, according to hospital records and a journalist. ‘Associated Press present at the hospital. Another strike on a house overnight killed six people, records show. Both strikes took place in Nuseirat, one of the many refugee camps built in Gaza dating back to the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israelwhen hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes in what became the new state.

Mohammed al-Kareem, a displaced Palestinian sheltering near the hospital, described chaotic scenes outside the facility. He said vehicles arrived one after another, while people in distress rushed the injured to the emergency department. Videos circulating online appear to show several injured people being treated on the hospital floor, a common scene in Gaza’s overwhelmed medical services.

Images showed bodies wrapped in blankets or plastic bags arranged in lines in the hospital courtyard, which was largely dark as staff tried to save fuel for electricity. Al-Kareem said he saw people looking for their loved ones among the bodies, and that one woman kept asking medical staff to open the body wrappers to see if her son was inside.

“The situation is tragic,” he said.

The Israeli military said Hamas had built a “compound” inside the school and that Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants inside were using it as a shelter to plan attacks on Israeli troops. , without however immediately providing proof. He posted a photo of the school, showing classrooms on the second and third floors where he said the activists were.

It said it took steps before the strike “to reduce the risk of harm to uninvolved civilians…including conducting aerial surveillance and obtaining additional intelligence.”

UNRWA schools in Gaza have operated as shelters since the start of the war, which drove most of the territory’s population, 2.3 million Palestinians, from their homes.

Israel launched its campaign in Gaza after Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7, in which militants killed some 1,200 people and took 250 others hostage. Israeli offensive has killed at least 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza Ministry of Healthwhich does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its figures.

Israel blames Hamas for civilian deaths because it positions fighters, tunnels and rocket launchers in residential areas.

The United States has thrown its weight behind a gradual ceasefire and release of hostages highlighted by President Joe Biden last week. But Israel says it will not end the war without destroying Hamas, while the militant group demands a lasting ceasefire and a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces.

The army said on Wednesday that forces were operating “both above and below ground” in eastern parts of Deir al-Balah and the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. The operation began with airstrikes on militants’ infrastructure, after which troops launched a “targeted daylight operation” in both areas.

According to Doctors Without Borders, at least 70 bodies and 300 injured people, most of them women and children, were transported to a hospital in central Gaza on Tuesday and Wednesday after a wave of Israeli strikes.

The international charity said in a post on fractures and other traumatic injuries.

that of Gaza the health system has almost collapsed through almost eight months of war. The hospital, which was treating some 700 wounded and sick people before the latest strikes, said Wednesday that one of its two power generators had stopped working, threatening its ability to operate ventilators and incubators for premature babies.

Israel has regularly launched airstrikes in all parts of Gaza since the start of the war and carried out massive ground operations in the territory’s two largest cities, Gaza City and Khan Younis, which left much of ‘between them in ruins.

The army carried out a weeks-long offensive earlier this year in Bureij and several other neighboring refugee camps in central Gaza.

Troops withdrew from the Jabaliya camp in northern Gaza last Friday after weeks of fighting that caused widespread destruction. First responders found the bodies of 360 people, mostly women and children, killed during the fighting.

Israel sent troops to Rafah in May in what it called a limited incursion, but these forces are now operating in central areas of Gaza’s southernmost city. More than a million people have fled Rafah since the operation began, many heading toward central Gaza.


Magdy reported from Cairo.


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