Israeli attack on UN school in Gaza kills dozens

JERUSALEM (Reuters), June 6 – Israel struck a Gaza school Thursday, claiming it was a targeted airstrike against up to 30 Hamas members inside. A Hamas official confirmed that 40 people, including women and children, were killed, as well as those sheltering in the UN compound.

After the attack, Palestinians were seen in video footage removing bodies from a local hospital and a number of injured. The attack occurred at a time when mediated talks about a ceasefire would be taking place. This would include the release of hostages held by Hamas as well as some Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

Imad al-Maqadmeh, a Palestinian boy, lay bleeding and swollen on the floor of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, Deir al-Balah. He claimed that he had lost his father during the strike.

What did we do?” No one is armed in the school. There are only children playing. We play together…Why did they bomb us?” In the video obtained from Reuters, he says:

The bodies of those laid out in the hospital, surrounded by mourners weeping, were mostly covered with shrouds and carpets. It was impossible to tell from the video whether they were non-combatants.

The United States and other countries issued a statement calling on Israel to compromise with Hamas in order to reach a final deal following eight months of conflict in the Gaza Strip. Ismail Al-Thawabta is the director of Hamas’ government media office. He rejected Israel’s claim that the UN school at Nuseirat in central Gaza had been used as a Hamas headquarters.

Thawabta, a Reuters reporter, said: “The occupation uses… false fabricated tales to justify the violent crime it committed against dozens displaced people.”

Israel’s military claimed that its fighter jets carried out a “precision strike” and distributed satellite photos showing two parts of the building where they said the fighters are based.

Peter Lerner, the military spokesperson, said: “We are very confident in our intelligence.” He accused Hamas and Islamic fighters deliberately using UN facilities for operational bases.

He stated that 20-30 fighters had been located within the compound and many had been killed. However, he did not have any precise details, as intelligence assessments are being conducted. He said: “I am not aware of any casualties among civilians and I would be very, extremely cautious about accepting anything Hamas says.”

Huda Abudhaher, a survivor of the attack at the school, described hearing rockets as she woke up.

The remains of people were scattered in the yard as well as outside. She told Reuters that the gas canister exploded.

“My nephew died (martyred), he lost both his arm and leg, he was 10 years old. The woman’s leg was lacerated, and her son bled out of his mouth and leg.”

UNRWA Chief Philippe Lazzarini stated that the school was run by UN Palestinian Refugee Agency at the time and housed 6,000 displaced persons.

He wrote: “At least, 35 people died and many others were injured.” “The claims that armed group members may have been in the shelter is shocking. However, we are unable to verify the claims. “To attack, target or use UN buildings for military purpose is to disregard International Humanitarian law.”

Thawabta, as well as a medical source, reported that 40 people had died. This included 14 children and 9 women.

The attack took place in central Gaza, where Israel launched a new campaign against insurgents who use hit-and run tactics. The Israeli government has said that there will not be a halt in fighting during the ceasefire negotiations, which have intensified after U.S. president Joe Biden presented a proposal on Friday for a truce.

Hamas wants to end the war permanently. Israel claims it must first destroy Hamas.

The Israeli military also reported an unusual attack near the Israel/Gaza border. They said a group of Palestinian fighters had killed a soldier, and that three others were also killed by retaliatory fire.

According to a statement from the Al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas’ armed wing in Gaza, its fighters conducted an operation behind enemy line in the Rafah region, which corresponds with the Israeli military account.

William Burns, the CIA Director, met with senior officials of mediators Qatar and Egypt in Doha on Wednesday to discuss a ceasefire plan. According to two Egyptian security sources, talks continued Thursday without any sign of progress.

Biden has declared ceasefires to be imminent over the last several months. However, all efforts have failed after a week-long truce that took place in November.

The announcement by the US president of a proposed ceasefire coincides with the intense political pressure that is being applied to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to find a way to end this eight-month war and to negotiate the release hostages.

His emergency coalition government’s centrist party has threatened to leave by Saturday if the leader does not commit to an after-war plan for Gaza. Members of the far-right have promised to retire if Hamas is not removed from power in a deal.

Hamas started the war when it attacked Israeli territory on Oct. 7 last year, killing more than 1,200 people. It also captured over 250 hostages. During the November truce, about half of the hostages were released.

Health officials on the ground in Gaza say that Israel’s military offensive has resulted in more than 36,000. They also fear thousands of more bodies are still buried beneath the rubble.

US and Israeli officials told Reuters that about half of Hamas’s forces were killed in the conflict. Hamas doesn’t disclose the number of deaths among its fighters, and some officials claim Israel exaggerated these figures. Israel’s military death toll stands at almost 300.

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