AFP6 June 2024 | 17:00

Gaza hospital says 37 dead in strike on UN school Israel says used by Hamas

Israel accuses Hamas and its allies in Gaza of using schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure including facilities run by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, as operational centres -- charges the militants deny.

Gaza hospital says 37 dead in strike on UN school Israel says used by Hamas

Poland's Iga Swiatek celebrates after winning against US Coco Gauff at the end of their women's singles semi-final match on Court Philippe-Chatrier on day twelve of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex in Paris on 6 June 2024. Picture: AFP

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES - A Gaza hospital said at least 37 people were killed in an Israeli strike Thursday on a UN-run school that the Israeli military alleged housed a "Hamas compound".

The raid came after US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators resumed talks aimed at securing a truce and hostage-prisoner swap in the nearly eight-month war triggered by Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel.

The military said it had "eliminated" several militants in a "precise strike on a Hamas compound embedded inside an UNRWA school" just before 2:00 am in the Nuseirat area of central Gaza.

Israel accuses Hamas and its allies in Gaza of using schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure including facilities run by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, as operational centres -- charges the militants deny.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah, near Nuseirat, said it had received the bodies of at least "37 martyrs" from the strike.

An AFP photographer saw Palestinians removing blood-stained mattresses and examining damage to the school where displaced Gazans had been sheltering, parts of it littered with broken concrete slabs.

Faisal Thari, a displaced Gazan who had sought refuge in the school, told AFP: "Why? What have we done for them to bomb us?

"We've fled from place to place. There is no safe place. No UNRWA school is safe. No tent is safe. There is no safe place."

Hamas in a statement decried a "new crime... against our people", urging international pressure on Israel to stop "these brutal massacres".

The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called for the strike to be "independently investigated".

A medic at the hospital said another Israeli pre-dawn strike killed six people in a house in Nuseirat refugee camp, while witnesses reported intense shelling in the Bureij and Al-Maghazi camps in the same area.

Israeli warplanes also carried out strikes in parts of Rafah, a source in Gaza's southernmost city told AFP.


The military said troops killed three suspects who had tried to breach the Gaza border fence in the Rafah area, adding no militants had crossed into Israel.

It also said a soldier was killed in Gaza on Thursday, bringing to 295 the overall death toll since the start of its ground offensive in the Palestinian territory on October 27.

The war was sparked by Hamas's October 7 attack, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 251 hostages, 120 of whom remain in Gaza, including 41 the army says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory military offensive has killed at least 36,654 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

As the fighting has raged on, Israel has faced growing diplomatic isolation, with international court cases accusing it of war crimes and several European countries recognising a Palestinian state.

Spain, which last week sparked Israeli fury by formally recognising Palestinian statehood, said Thursday it would become the latest country to join South Africa's case at the International Court of Justice accusing Israel of "genocide" against Palestinians in Gaza.

Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said Madrid's "sole goal is to put an end to the war and to advance" a two-state solution to the conflict.


US President Joe Biden last week outlined what he called a three-phase Israeli plan to halt the fighting for six weeks while hostages are exchanged for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and the delivery of aid into Gaza is stepped up.

G7 powers and Arab states have backed the proposal and on Wednesday 16 world leaders including key European and Latin American players signed alongside Biden calling for Hamas to accept the deal.

"There is no time to lose. We call on Hamas to close this agreement," said the statement issued by the White House.

Major sticking points remain, however, with Hamas insisting on a permanent truce and full Israeli withdrawal -- demands Israel has rejected.

Egypt's state-linked Al-Qahera news quoted a high-level source on Thursday saying that Cairo had "received positive signs from the Palestinian movement signalling its aspiration for a ceasefire".

The unnamed source said a response was expected from the militant group in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the White House's Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk met Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Cairo where the two discussed the talks.

Hamas has accused Israel of dragging its feet in the negotiations, and leader Ismail Haniyeh said the Islamist movement would "deal seriously and positively" with any offer meeting its key demands.


The war has sent regional tensions soaring, with violence on the rise involving Israel and its allies on the one hand, and Iran-backed armed groups on the other.

Regular cross-border clashes between Israeli forces and Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, which have forced mass evacuations on both sides, have intensified in recent days.

The Israeli military on Thursday announced a soldier was killed in a Hezbollah drone strike the day before on the town of Hurfeish.

Israeli politicians have threatened more intense fighting against Hezbollah, which last fought a major war with Israel in 2006.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said Israel was "prepared for a very intense operation" along the border with Lebanon and that "one way or another, we will restore security to the north".

The United States appeared to warn Israel against acting, with State Department spokesman Matthew Miller saying any "escalation" in Lebanon would "greatly harm Israel's overall security".