UPDATED: Israeli strike on a Gaza UN school kills 37 Palestinians, including children

AP , Ahram Online , Thursday 6 Jun 2024

An Israeli strike early Thursday on a UN school-turned-shelter in the Nuseirat camp in central Gaza, killed at least 37 people, including five children, according to health officials.

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in an Israeli bombardment of UNRWA school at Nusseirat refugee camp, in front of the morgue of al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza Strip, early Thursday, June 6, 2024. AP


The strike came after the occupation army said it was launching new air and ground attacks in central Gaza in an apparent widening of its nearly eight-month brutal war.

An international medical charity had reported soaring casualties even before Thursday's strike.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah received at least 37 bodies from the strike on the school run by the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, updating an earlier figure of 27 given by the government media office.

Additionally, records from the hospital and observations from an Associated Press reporter confirm that another six bodies from a separate strike on a home were also transported to the hospital.

Mohammed al-Kareem, a displaced Palestinian sheltering near the hospital, described chaotic scenes outside the facility. He said vehicles arrived one after the other, as distressed people rushed wounded people into the emergency department.

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, 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 said.

The Israeli army said its fighter jets struck the school, sheltering thousands of displaced Palestinians, claming without offering evidence, that Palestinian resistance groups 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 2.4 million Palestinians.

Both strikes occurred in Nuseirat camp, 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 were forcibly displaced from their homes, often under the threat of violence from Zionist armed groups.      

The occupation army 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.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) 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.”

Karin Huster, Doctors Without Borders' medical adviser in Gaza, described the scene at the hospital the "insane escalation of hostilities" across the Gaza Strip, calling the situation "apocalyptic." 

“The odour of blood in the hospital's emergency room this morning was unbearable. People are lying everywhere, on the floor, outside ... bodies were being brought in plastic bags.” 



Gaza’s health system has nearly collapsed through almost eight months of war. The hospital, which was treating some 700 wounded and sick people before the latest strikes, said Wednesday that one of its two electrical generators had stopped working, threatening its ability to keep operating ventilators and incubators for premature babies.

The Israeli army waged an offensive earlier this year for several weeks in Bureij and several other nearby refugee camps in central Gaza.

Troops pulled out of the Jabaliya camp in northern Gaza last Friday after weeks of fighting caused widespread destruction. First responders have recovered the bodies of 360 people, mostly women and children, killed by Israeli forces.

Israel sent troops into Rafah in May in what it claimed was a limited incursion, but those forces are now operating in central parts of Gaza’s southernmost city.

However, in a single night, Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 40 Palestinians and hit tents for displaced people in Rafah, and “numerous” others were trapped in flaming debris.

More than 1 million people have fled Rafah since the start of the operation, with many heading toward central Gaza.

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