Israel hit Gaza school ‘without prior warning’: UNRWA chief

The head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency said Thursday that Israel had bombed one of its schools in Gaza “without prior warning” to thousands of displaced people sheltering there. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Another UNRWA school turned shelter attacked,” Philippe Lazzarini wrote on social media platform X, of the school in the Nuseirat area of central Gaza.

Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said nine “terrorists” were killed when fighter jets hit the school.

Hagari said in a televised address that the jets had attacked three classrooms where about 30 militants from Islamic Jihad and Hamas were hiding.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital said at least 37 people were killed in the strike.

Lazzarini said the school was sheltering 6,000 displaced people when it was hit.

He added that UNRWA “shares the coordinates of all its facilities (including this school) with the Israeli army and other parties in the conflict”.

“Attacking, targeting or using UN buildings for military purposes are a blatant disregard of International Humanitarian law,” Lazzarini said.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem called the strike a “suspected war crime”.

“If, as Israel claims, Hamas used the school to plan military operations, this action is illegal, but it cannot justify the massive harm to civilians who sought shelter in the school from the horror of prolonged fighting,” the group said in a statement.

“As demonstrated throughout the war, the killing of civilians is an unavoidable result of the character of Israel’s military activity in the Gaza Strip,” it said, urging the international community to help stop the fighting.

In a separate incident, Hagari said Israeli troops killed three Hamas militants who were trying to enter the country from the Rafah area by breaching the border fence.

Israel pounds Gaza refugee camp as war enters ninth month
Israeli strikes hammered a Gaza refugee camp on Friday after a deadly strike on a UN-run school, as the war sparked by Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel entered its ninth month.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands, laid waste to much of the Gaza Strip, uprooted most of its 2.4 million population and put them at risk of starvation.

Diplomatic efforts to mediate the first ceasefire since a week-long pause in November appear to have stalled, only a week after US President Joe Biden offered a new three-stage roadmap.

Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, has yet to respond to Biden’s proposal. Israel has expressed openness to discussions while insisting on pursuing its war aim of destroying the Palestinian Islamist group.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza said at least 37 people were killed in Thursday’s Israeli strike on the UN-run school in Nuseirat camp.

The Israeli army said its fighter jets killed nine “terrorists” in three classrooms where about 30 militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad had been hiding.

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said hundreds of displaced Palestinians had been sheltering at the school which was “hit without prior warning”.

UN Secretary-General chief Antonio Guterres described the strike as “another horrific example of the price that civilians are paying”.

Strikes across Gaza
The United States, which provides Israel with $3.8 billion in annual military aid, urged its ally to be “fully” transparent about the strike.

“The government of Israel has said that they are going to release more information about this strike, including the names of those who died in it. We expect them to be fully transparent in making that information public,” said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

Israel accuses Hamas and its allies in Gaza of using schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure including facilities run by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, as operational centres — charges the militants deny.

On Friday, strikes targeted various areas across the Gaza Strip.

A day after the school was hit, the Nuseirat refugee camp faced renewed Israeli artillery shelling and air strikes, eyewitnesses said.

A medical source at Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital said the Isa family home near a medical centre in the Bureij refugee camp was targeted, leaving several wounded.

Witnesses also confirmed Israeli strikes in the east of Deir al-Balah, as well as intensive fire from Israeli army vehicles east of the Bureij camp, where a blaze raged at a roundabout.

In Gaza City, casualties were reported from an Israeli missile strike on the Ashram family home near Al-Salam mosque, according to a medical source at Baptist Hospital.

Six people were killed and several wounded in an Israeli strike on the Wafati home in Maghazi camp, said a medical source at Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital.

Air force jets also targeted the Al-Sultan neighbourhood of Rafah, sources in the city on the southern border with Egypt said.

Gaza also came under fire from the sea, with Israeli warships bombarding homes in the fishermen’s port area, among others, west of Gaza City, an AFP correspondent said.

Israeli isolation
The war was sparked by Hamas’s 7 October attack, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 251 hostages, 120 of whom remain in Gaza, including 41 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory military offensive has killed at least 36,654 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Israel has faced growing diplomatic isolation, with international court cases accusing it of war crimes and several European countries recognising a Palestinian state.

Spain, which last week sparked Israeli fury by formally recognising Palestinian statehood, said Thursday it would become the latest country to join South Africa’s case at the International Court of Justice accusing Israel of “genocide” against Palestinians in Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has meanwhile accepted an invitation from lawmakers in the United States to address Congress on 24 July, a congressional source told AFP.

A week ago, Biden outlined what he labelled an Israeli plan to halt the fighting for six weeks while hostages are exchanged for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and the delivery of aid into Gaza is stepped up.

G7 powers and Arab states have backed the proposal, with 16 world leaders joining Biden’s call for Hamas to accept the deal.

“There is no time to lose. We call on Hamas to close this agreement,” the joint statement said. wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd wvd

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