‘Horrific Images’: Over 40 Killed At UN Gaza School That IDF Says Was Used By Hamas

Illustrative: the congested Deir Al-Balah refugee camp in Gaza. UNRWA

There are reports of another mass casualty airstrike emerging from the Gaza Strip on Thursday. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) struck a school near the central Gaza city of Deir al-Balah, leaving at least 40 people dead and 74 injured.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) says those sheltering at the Al-Nusseirat Boys Preparatory were given no prior warning that the strike was coming. But the IDF has countered that it was a “precise strike on a Hamas compound” inside the school and that dozens of Hamas militants were using the compound.

“The terrorists directed terror from the area of the school while exploiting it and using it as a shelter,” the IDF wrote on Telegram. “Several terrorists who planned to carry out terror attacks and promote terrorist activities against IDF troops in the immediate time frame were eliminated in the strike.”

The UN agency is disputing this narrative, with Commissioner-general of UNRWA Philippe Lazzarini saying “the school was sheltering 6,000 displaced people when it was hit.” The Gaza Health Ministry has said that among the dead are 14 children and nine women.

“Attacking, targeting or using UN buildings for military purposes are a blatant disregard of International humanitarian law,” he added. He also explained that throughout the conflict many other UNRWA shelters and conflicts had been struck, and estimated that over 450 internally displaced civilians had been killed in total.

Israeli leaders have long charged Hamas fighters with hiding among civilians or using residential areas to launch missile attacks or store arms. Often IDF military commanders fire back on said militants even knowing it could result in mass civilian casualties.

In this new mass casualty event, Israel does not appear to be denying that its airstrike killed many civilians. It has offered this as defense of its actions:

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) accused Hamas of embedding inside the UNRWA school and claimed fighters who invaded southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and taking another roughly 250 hostages, were sheltering at the site.

“Before the strike, a number of steps were taken to reduce the risk of harming uninvolved civilians during the strike, including conducting aerial surveillance, and additional intelligence information,” they added.

This will without doubt result in more pressure from European powers for Israel to halt its operations at a moment there are reports a ceasefire deal is still inching forward in Qatar and Egypt-mediated truce talks.

An Egyptian source has been quoted in Al Jazeera as saying Thursday, “Hamas leaders have informed us that they are studying the truce proposal seriously and positively.” However, such reporting of ‘positive’ momentum has been a talking point on repeat for several months, but not resulting in a new truce or hostage deal coming to fruition.

Below are some of the latest developments via Al Jazeera:

  • In a statement, the United States and 16 allied countries say they “fully support” the ceasefire and captives’ release deal outlined by US President Joe Biden on May 31.
  • Gaza’s Health Ministry says 68 Palestinians were killed and 235 wounded in the past 24 hours.
  • At least 40 people have been killed and dozens wounded in an Israeli attack on a school sheltering displaced people and houses in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. The Israeli military has confirmed that its fighter jets targeted an UNRWA school in the area.
  • Spain says it will join the case filed by South Africa at the International Court of Justice, which accuses Israel of violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention in its war on Gaza.
  • At least 36,654 people have been killed and 83,309 wounded in Israel’s war on Gaza since October 7. The death toll in Israel from Hamas’s attacks stands at 1,139, with dozens of people still held captive in Gaza.


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