Israeli strike on UN school-turned shelter in Gaza kills at least 45 people

The IDF is launching new air and ground operations in central Gaza in an apparent widening of its offensive.

At least 45 people have died in an Israeli airstrike on a school-turned shelter in central Gaza that its military claims was being used as a Hamas compound, according to multiple reports.

It came after the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said it was launching new air and ground operations in the centre the Palestinian territory in an apparent widening of its offensive.

An international medical charity had reported soaring casualties even before Thursday morning’s strike on the school inside the Nuseirat refugee camp.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah said it received at least 30 bodies from the strike on the school – run by the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) – and another six were brought in from a separate strike on a home, according to hospital records.

An earlier report from the hospital found that at least five children had been killed.

Mohammed al-Kareem, a displaced Palestinian sheltering near the hospital, described chaotic scenes outside the facility, with vehicles arriving one after another as distressed people were rushed into the emergency department.

Palestinians mourn their relatives in front of the morgue of al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip. / Credit: AP

Videos circulating online appeared to show several wounded people being treated on the floor of the hospital, a common scene in Gaza’s overwhelmed medical wards.

Later, al-Kareem said he saw people searching for their loved ones among bodies wrapped in white shrouds in the hospital courtyard.

He said one woman kept asking medical workers to open them up to see if her son was inside.

“The situation is tragic,” he added.

The Israeli military said its fighter jets struck the school that it claimed – without immediately offering evidence – that Hamas and the Islamic Jihad used as cover for their operations.

UNRWA schools across Gaza have functioned as shelters since the start of the war, which has displaced most of the territory’s population of 2.3 million Palestinians.

“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,” the Israeli military said.

Palestinians check the bodies of their relatives killed in an Israeli bombardment of the UNRWA school at Nusseirat refugee camp. / Credit: AP

Both strikes occurred in Nuseirat, one of several built-up refugee camps in Gaza dating back to the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes in what became the new state.

The latest war was triggered by Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, in which militants killed some 1,200 people and took another 250 hostage.

Israel’s offensive has killed at least 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians in its figures.

Israel says it takes measures to avoid harming civilians and blames their deaths of Hamas because it positions fighters, tunnels and rocket launchers in residential areas. The military rarely comments on individual strikes, which often kill women and children.

The United States has thrown its weight behind a phased ceasefire and hostage release outlined by President Joe Biden last week.

Israel says it won’t end the war without destroying Hamas, however, while the militant group is demanding a lasting ceasefire and the full withdrawal of Israeli forces.

The military said Wednesday that forces were operating “both above and below ground” in eastern parts of Deir al-Balah and the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. It said the operation began with airstrikes on militant infrastructure, after which troops began a “targeted daylight operation” in both areas.

Doctors Without Borders said at least 70 bodies and 300 wounded people, mostly women and children, were brought to a hospital in central Gaza on Tuesday and Wednesday after a wave of Israeli strikes.

The international charity said Wednesday in a post on X that Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital is struggling to treat “a huge influx of patients, many of them arriving with severe burns, shrapnel wounds, fractures, and other traumatic injuries”.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in