An Israeli air strike on a UN-run school in northern Gaza has killed at least 50 people, according to a health official, on another devastating day of Israeli attacks on Palestinians in the besieged enclave.
The attack, which occurred on Saturday morning, targeted the al-Fakhoura school in Jabalia refugee camp, where thousands of displaced people were seeking shelter from the ongoing Israeli offensive. The school, which was run by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), was clearly marked as a UN facility and had been communicated to the Israeli military as a protected site.
The health ministry in Gaza, which is run by Hamas, said that more than 150 people were also injured in the strike, many of them critically. It said that most of the victims were women and children, who had fled their homes in fear of the Israeli bombardment.
The UNRWA condemned the attack as a “grave violation of international law” and a “war crime”. It said that it was the fourth time that one of its schools had been hit by Israeli fire in the past week, despite its repeated appeals to the Israeli authorities to spare its facilities and staff.
No Space, Supplies and Fuel
The UNRWA also said that it was running out of space, supplies and fuel to provide humanitarian assistance to the more than 200,000 people who had taken refuge in its schools across Gaza. It said that it was facing a “dire situation” and that it urgently needed more funding and access to deliver aid.
The Israeli military said that it had targeted a “Hamas military intelligence facility” that was located near the school, and that it had taken all necessary precautions to minimize civilian casualties. It said that it had warned the residents of the area to evacuate before the strike, and that it had coordinated with the UN and other humanitarian organizations.
The Israeli military also said that it was responding to the “incessant rocket fire” from Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups, who had launched more than 10,000 rockets at Israel since the start of the conflict on October 7. It said that it had killed more than 9,000 Hamas fighters and destroyed hundreds of rocket launchers and tunnels in Gaza, and that it had suffered 69 casualties, mostly soldiers.
The war between Israel and Hamas has caused immense suffering and damage to both sides, as well as to the civilian population in Gaza. The UN has said that more than half of Gaza’s population lacks access to basic services and humanitarian aid, and that more than 30,000 people have been injured by Israeli attacks.
The international community has urged both sides to de-escalate the situation and resume negotiations for a lasting peace. However, both Israel and Hamas have rejected any calls for a ceasefire without meeting their conditions.
Israel has demanded that Hamas stop firing rockets and disarm completely. Hamas has demanded that Israel end its blockade of Gaza and its occupation of East Jerusalem.