Israeli attack on Gaza school leaves 16 dead and dozens injured

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An Israeli airstrike on a school sheltering displaced Palestinians in central Gaza killed at least 16 people on Saturday and wounded dozens, local officials said.

The Israeli military said the air strike in Nuseirat targeted militants who were using structures in the Al Jaouni school area as “hideouts and operational infrastructure” to direct and carry out attacks on its forces.

They said steps had been taken to minimise the risk of harm to civilians ahead of Saturday’s attack, which came after Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, declared late last month that the “intense phase” of the war was “very close” to ending.

However, the Palestinian Health Ministry said that in addition to the deaths, 50 people were injured in the airstrike and accused Israeli forces of carrying out a “massacre”.

The attack comes as talks brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the United States aimed at securing a deal to end the war in Gaza and free some 120 hostages still held by Hamas in the enclave are expected to resume next week.

Previous efforts to reach a deal have stalled repeatedly due to fundamental disputes between Israel and Hamas over key terms.

US officials have expressed cautious optimism about the latest talks, with one senior official saying earlier this week that Hamas had made “a pretty significant adjustment” to its position, creating a “pretty significant opening”. However, the official warned that any deal would not be “done in a matter of days”.

The United States and other mediators believe a hostage deal is the most realistic way to end the war and reduce tensions in the region, especially the near-daily cross-border clashes between Israel and Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese militia movement.

Israel said Hezbollah fired about 20 rockets into the Lower Galilee region on Sunday morning, while Israeli medics reported that a man was taken to hospital after being seriously injured by shrapnel.

Israel launched its assault on Gaza after a Hamas offensive on October 7 in which militants killed 1,200 people and took 250 hostage, according to Israeli officials.

However, the country is under increasing pressure from the international community over the death toll from the offensive, which has killed more than 38,000 people, according to Palestinian officials, and caused a humanitarian disaster in the coastal enclave.

Many schools in Gaza have been used as shelters since the fighting began, according to the United Nations, displacing more than 1.7 million of the territory’s 2.3 million residents, with many families forced to move multiple times as Israeli forces swept into the strip.

Another Israeli air strike last month on a former UN school in Nuseirat, a shelter for thousands of displaced Palestinians, killed at least 35 people and wounded 74 others.

At the time, Israel said it was targeting Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants who were part of the Nukhba force that led the October 7 attack.


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