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Israeli attack on Gaza school kills dozens

July 11, 2024 00:00:00

A woman carrying an injured child on Wednesday, at the site of an Israeli strike on a former school in central Gaza. — Reuters

GAZA, July 10 (Agencies): Israeli forces launched more deadly strikes across Gaza on Wednesday, according to medical sources and the military, which said it targeted Hamas militants operating from inside a UN agency building.

The Israeli army also said it was reviewing an attack on Tuesday in which hospital sources said at least 29 people were killed in a nearby school in the southern Khan Yunis area - the fourth attack on a school building in four days.

Early on Wednesday, four people were killed and one critically wounded in the bombing of a house in the central town of Nuseirat, a hospital source said.

And two people were killed and six injured in another strike on a home in Bani Suhaila, near Khan Yunis, according to another hospital source.

Israel has stepped up air and ground attacks in Gaza City and southern Gaza since issuing evacuation orders for tens of thousands of people in the war-stricken Palestinian territory.

The heightened military strikes come as Israeli officials start talks in Qatar on Wednesday on reaching a truce in the war raging since the October 7 Hamas attacks.

The Israeli military said that one overnight attack in Gaza City targeted Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets operating from inside the headquarters of the UN agency for Palestinians UNRWA.

Israel's military offensive has killed at least 38,243 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to figures released Tuesday by the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

Gaza airstrike hit as displaced

gathered for soccer match

An Israeli missile slammed into a tent encampment in southern Gaza on Tuesday just as displaced people had gathered to watch a football match at a school, eyewitnesses said on Wednesday.

At least 29 people, mostly women and children, were killed in the strike, according to Palestinian officials, which took place as spectators crowded the school grounds in Abassan east of Khan Younis and hawkers sold smoothies and biscuits.

"They were watching a football match. There were injuries and martyrs. I witnessed this...people thrown around and body parts scattered, blood," a young woman, Ghazzal Nasser, told Reuters in Abassan. "Everything was normal. People were playing, others were buying and selling (food and drinks). There was no sound of planes or anything," she said.

Israel orders all civilians

to leave Gaza City

The Israeli military has told all residents of Gaza City to evacuate south to the central Gaza Strip, amid an intensified offensive there.

Leaflets dropped by aircraft instruct "everyone in Gaza City" to leave what is described as a "dangerous combat zone" via designated safe routes - marked as two roads that lead to shelters in Deir al-Balah and al-Zawaida.

The UN has said it is deeply concerned about the evacuation orders being given.

Over the past two weeks, Israeli forces have issued evacuation orders for and re-entered several areas of Gaza City where they believe Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have regrouped since the start of the year.

The fighting is continuing as indirect negotiations over a potential ceasefire and hostage release deal between Israel and Hamas are set to resume in Qatar. The talks will be attended by the intelligence chiefs of Egypt, the US and Israel.

In a statement issued earlier on Wednesday, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said its troops had "conducted a counterterrorism operation" overnight against Hamas and PIJ fighters who were operating inside a headquarters of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (Unrwa) in Gaza City.

France says Israeli strikes on

Gaza schools 'unacceptable'

France on Wednesday condemned Israel's recent deadly air strikes on schools sheltering displaced Palestinians in Gaza, declaring such tactics "unacceptable".

"We call for these strikes to be fully investigated," the foreign ministry said, highlighting a strike on Tuesday on a school near the southern city of Khan Yunis.

"It is unacceptable that schools, especially those housing civilians displaced by the fighting, should be targeted," the ministry statement said.

"We call on Israel to do its utmost to protect civilians in the conduct of military operations and to fully respect international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of proportionality and distinction."

Hundreds of thousands have been displaced within the densely populated territory.

In the past four days, deadly strikes have hit four schools used as shelters, sparking international outrage.

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