Israeli strike on Gaza school kills 16 and injures dozens


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An Israeli strike on a school sheltering displaced Palestinians in central Gaza killed at least 16 people on Saturday and wounded dozens, local officials said.

Israel’s military said the strike in Nuseirat had targeted militants who were using structures in the area of the Al Jaouni school as a “hide-out and operational infrastructure” to direct and carry out attacks on its forces.

It said it had taken steps to reduce the risk of harming civilians before the strike on Saturday, which came after Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said late last month that the end of the “intense phase” of the war was “very close”.

However, the Palestinian health ministry said that, in addition to the deaths, 50 people had been injured in the strike, and accused Israeli forces of committing a “massacre”.

Philippe Lazzarini, head of UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, said nearly 2,000 displaced people had been sheltering in the school, which was run by the agency before the war.

He said 190 UNRWA facilities had now been hit since the start of the war, resulting in the deaths of 520 people and 1,600 injuries.

“Too many were women and children. A reoccurring claim (among others) from Israel is that our facilities are being used by Palestinian armed groups. These are claims that I take very seriously,” he said.

“It is exactly why I have repeatedly called for independent investigations to ascertain the facts and identify those responsible for attacks on UN premises or their misuse.”

The strike came as talks mediated by Qatar, Egypt and the US to secure a deal to end the war in Gaza and free the roughly 120 hostages that Hamas still holds in the enclave are due to resume in the coming week.

Previous attempts to reach an agreement have stalled multiple times amid fundamental disputes between Israel and Hamas over the key terms.

US officials have expressed guarded optimism over the latest talks, with one senior official saying earlier this week that Hamas had made “a pretty significant adjustment” to its position that had created a “pretty significant opening”. However, the official cautioned that any deal was not “going to come together in a period of days”.

The US and the other mediators believe a hostage deal is the most realistic way to end the war and de-escalate regional tensions, in particular the almost daily cross-border clashes between Israel and Hizbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant movement.

Israel’s military said Hizbollah had fired about 20 rockets at the Lower Galilee region on Sunday morning, with Israeli paramedics reporting that one man was taken to hospital after being seriously injured by shrapnel. It said later that Hizbollah had also launched four anti-tank missiles at Israel, and that the Israeli military had responded with strikes on targets in Lebanon.

Israel launched its assault on Gaza after Hamas’s October 7 attack, during which militants killed 1,200 people and took 250 hostage, according to Israeli officials.

However, it has come under increasing international pressure over the toll of its offensive, which has killed more than 38,000 people, according to Palestinian officials, and fuelled a humanitarian catastrophe in the coastal enclave.

Many schools in Gaza have been used as shelters since the start of the fighting, which has displaced more than 1.7mn of the territory’s 2.3mn inhabitants, according to the UN, with many families having to move location multiple times as Israeli forces have swept through the strip.

Another Israeli strike last month on a former UN school in Nuseirat where thousands of displaced Palestinians were sheltering killed at least 35 people, and injured 74 others.

Israel said at the time that it had targeted Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants who were part of the Nukhba forces that spearheaded the October 7 attack.



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