Home Europe Israeli airstrike on school-turned-shelter kills at least 29 Palestinians in southern Gaza

Israeli airstrike on school-turned-shelter kills at least 29 Palestinians in southern Gaza

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A hospital spokesperson said the dead included at least seven women and children and that the toll was likely to rise.


At least 29 Palestinians have been killed in an Israeli airstrike on a school-turned-shelter in southern Gaza, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.

The ministry said the gate of the Al-Awda school was struck in the town of Abasan al-Kabira, east of Khan Younis, where civilians were ordered to evacuate last week.

The Israeli military claims it was targeting a “terrorist from Hamas’ military wing”, who, it said, was involved in the 7 October attack.

It follows the evacuation of Gaza City, where Israel has embarked on a new ground offensive in pursuit of Hamas militants, who it says are regrouping in the area. 

Residents were told to head south to the city of Deir al-Balah as heavy bombardment in the north has forced the closure of medical facilities in the city. Residents have also reported artillery and tank fire, as well as airstrikes. 

There is 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.

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.

The Israeli military says 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.

In the past nine months, Israeli troops have occupied at least eight hospitals, causing the deaths of patients and medical workers along with massive destruction to facilities and equipment. 

Israel has claimed Hamas uses hospitals for military purposes, though it has provided only limited evidence. In Shijaiyah, a Gaza City neighbourhood that has seen weeks of fighting, the military said troops raided and destroyed schools and a clinic that had been converted into militant compounds.

Only 13 of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are functioning only partially, according to the United Nations’ humanitarian office.

Ceasefire deal at risk

Hamas has warned that the latest raids in Gaza City could lead to the collapse of negotiations for a ceasefire and hostage-release deal.

Israel and Hamas had appeared to narrow the gaps in recent days, with the US, Egypt and Qatar mediating.

CIA Director William Burns met on Tuesday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo to discuss the negotiations, el-Sissi’s office said. More talks are to be held in Qatar, where Hamas maintains a political office.

But obstacles remain, even after Hamas agreed to relent on its key demand that Israel commit to ending the war as part of any agreement. Hamas still wants mediators to guarantee that negotiations conclude with a permanent ceasefire.

Israel has rejected any deal that would force it to end the war with Hamas intact. 

Hamas on Monday accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of “putting more obstacles in the way of negotiations,” including the operations in Gaza City.

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