Dozens killed in Israeli airstrikes on schools - GulfToday

Dozens killed in Israeli airstrikes on schools


Palestinians inspect a building destroyed in an Israeli strike in Nusairat refugee camp, Gaza Strip, on Wednesday. Reuters

Across Gaza, deadly strikes have hit four schools used as shelters in four days, killing at least 49 people according to medics and officials in the Hamas-run territory, and sparking rebukes from France and Germany.

"It is unacceptable that schools, especially those housing civilians displaced by the fighting, should be targeted," said the French foreign ministry, urging an investigation.

Israel said the strikes had targeted fighters hiding in schools.

The Israeli military concluded its operation in Gaza City's eastern district of Shujaiya, where major battles had raged since an Israeli evacuation order on June 27.

A spokesman for Gaza's civil defence agency said there was widespread "destruction".

Shujaiya has become a "ghost city", said Mahmud Bassal.

Meanwhile, an Israeli delegation led by spy chief David Barnea arrived in Doha for truce talks, said a source with knowledge of the sensitive negotiations.

Joe Biden speaks during a visit tp the Flatirons Campus of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Arvada, Colorado. (Image via Twitter)
US President Joe Biden speaks during a press conference. File photo

CIA director William Burns was also expected in the Qatari capital after holding talks in Cairo on Tuesday.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meanwhile met US President Joe Biden's special envoy for the Middle East, Brett McGurk.

Netanyahu "emphasised his commitment" to a proposed truce plan, "as long as Israel's red lines are preserved", his office said.

Large parts of Gaza City and urban areas around it have been flattened or left a shattered landscape after nine months of fighting. Much of the population fled earlier in the war, but several hundred thousand Palestinians remain in the north.

"The fighting has been intense,” said Hakeem Abdel-Bar, who fled Gaza City’s Tuffah district to the home of relatives in another part of the city. He said Israeli warplanes and drones were "striking anything moving” and that tanks had moved into central districts.

The strike at the entrance to the school killed at least 25 people, according to an Associated Press reporter who counted the bodies at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. Hospital spokesperson Weam Fares said the dead included at least seven women and children and that the toll was likely to rise.

Earlier airstrikes in central Gaza killed at least 14 people, including a woman and four children, according to two hospitals that received the bodies. Israel has repeatedly struck what it says are fighters targets across Gaza since the start of the war nine months ago.

The military blames civilian deaths on Hamas because the Palestinian group Hamas fight in dense, urban areas, but the army rarely comments on individual strikes, which often kill women and children. The Israeli army said the airstrike near the school and reports of civilian casualties were under review, and claimed the strike targeted a Hamas who took part in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

There was also no immediate word on casualties in Gaza City. Families whose relatives were wounded or trapped were calling for ambulances, but first responders could not reach most of the affected districts because of the Israeli operations, said Nebal Farsakh, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent.

"It’s a dangerous zone,” she said.

After Israel on Monday called for an evacuation from eastern and central parts of Gaza City, staff at two hospitals — Al-Ahli and the Patients Friends Association Hospital — rushed to move patients and shut down, the United Nations said. Farsakh said all three medical facilities run by the Red Crescent in Gaza City had closed.

Scores of patients were transferred to the Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza, which itself was the scene of heavy fighting earlier in the war. "We do not know where to go. There is no treatment and no necessities for life," said Mohammad Abu Naser, who was being treated there. "We are dying slowly.”

The Israeli military said on Tuesday that it told hospitals and other medical facilities in Gaza City they did not need to evacuate. But hospitals in Gaza have often shut down and moved patients at any sign of possible Israeli military action, fearing raids.

A boy reacts next to the bodies of Palestinians at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis on Wednesday. Reuters


The Episcopal Church in the Middle East, which operates Al-Ahli, said the hospital was "compelled to close by the Israeli army” after the evacuation orders and a wave of nearby drone strikes on Sunday.

Hamas’ cross-border raid on Oct. 7 killed 1,200 people in southern Israel, most of them civilians, according to Israeli authorities. The Palestinian group Hamas took roughly 250 people hostage. About 120 are still in captivity, with about a third said to be dead.

Israel's bombardment and offensives in Gaza have killed more than 38,200 people and wounded more than 88,000, according to the territory's Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.


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