Israeli strike on UN school in Gaza: Dozens kids killed

Women and children were among the dead, officials in Gaza said, in what the Israel Defense Forces said was a “precise” strike targeting militants involved in the Oct. 7 attacks.

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Overnight, the Israeli military conducted an attack on a UN refugee agency-run school in the central Gaza Strip, claiming it was targeting Hamas.

Local health authorities said that scores of displaced residents, including children, were murdered in the onslaught.

The Israel Defense Forces said early Thursday morning that it had executed a “precise strike” against a Hamas facility planted within the UNRWA school in the Nuseirat refugee camp. It claimed that terrorists who participated in Hamas’ Oct. 7 strikes were killed in the strike.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesperson, said he was not aware of any civilian deaths as a result of the attack, which had been postponed twice to separate terrorists from civilians.

According to local health authorities, at least 30 people were murdered, including 23 women and children, and others were wounded.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital stated that the death toll might be higher, claiming to have received the remains of up to 40 victims.

UNRWA communications director Juliette Touma told NBC News that the number of people allegedly dead in the Israeli attack on the Nuseirat school ranged between 35 and 45, but the agency could not confirm specific figures at this point.

She claimed UNRWA could not corroborate the Israeli military’s assertion that the school was being utilized by Hamas fighters.

Lerner said the IDF believed there were 20 to 30 Hamas and Islamic Jihad members using the school to plot and conduct assaults. He said that once the IDF receives a list of their identities, it would disseminate it to the public.

Witnesses and medical authorities confirmed the attack targeted the UNRWA-run al-Sardi School, according to the Associated Press. They stated the school was full of Palestinians who had escaped the Israeli invasion and bombing in northern Gaza.

Ayman Rashed, who claimed he was in the school after being forced from Gaza City, told AP that rockets struck classrooms on the second and third floors of the facility, where families were sheltering. He claimed to have helped carry out the murders of five people, including an elderly man and two children.

“It was dark, with no electricity, and we struggled to get out the victims,” Rashed said.

The raid comes after the military announced additional operations in the region, seeking to widen its months-long onslaught in the enclave.

It also comes as Israel faces growing international condemnation after a “targeted” attack seemed to start a horrific fire that spread across a tent camp housing displaced refugees, killing at least 45 people.

Images from the incident showed screaming Palestinians running for safety and assisting the wounded, while a video circulated on social media showed the burnt remains of those slain. In one video, a guy is seen holding up a tiny child’s decapitated corpse.

The IDF has said that it is probing the May 26 attack.

While witnesses said the school hit by the IDF’s latest strike was full of Palestinians fleeing fighting in northern Gaza, Nuseirat is also one of several areas where hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians have fled in recent weeks after Israeli forces launched ground operations in Rafah last month and ordered evacuations in the southern Gaza city, which Israel had previously declared a “safe zone.”

Although Israeli soldiers have labeled neighboring Muwasi a humanitarian area and “safer” zone for Palestinians to take sanctuary, congested circumstances and worries for safety have driven many to seek shelter elsewhere.

According to the Gaza health ministry, more than 36,500 people have been murdered in Gaza since Israel started its onslaught on the territory in response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 strikes, which killed 1,200 people and kidnapped around 250 more, according to Israeli authorities.

According to Israeli sources, over 120 Palestinians are still being kept hostage in Gaza, with at least one-third of them thought to be dead.

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