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Israeli forces killed dozens of Palestinians at a UN school that was sheltering displaced people in Jabaliya Refugee Camp in the northern Gaza Strip late on Tuesday afternoon.
John Ging, Director of Operations in Gaza of UNRWA, said that 30 people died and 55 others were injured when three Israeli artillery shells landed at the perimeter of the school.
Ma’an spoke with witnesses who saw two shells exploding at the school. Medical officials at Gaza hospitals said 42 were killed.
Palestinians displaced by the Israeli military onslaught had taken shelter in the school.
Witnesses reported ambulances and private cars evacuating the dead and wounded, some of whom appeared to have been blown to pieces. Many women and children are said to be among the dead. Hundreds of people were reported to be in the area of the school at the time of the shelling.
Ma’an’s reporter said that dozens more, all civilians, were injured in the attack on the Al-Fakhoura School. The death toll is expected to rise as a number of the wounded are said to be in critical condition. Ambulances were initially unable reach the school.
A boy seeking shelter in a UN School in Gaza (Reuters)
The school is operated by UNRWA, the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees. UNRWA has been using its schools to house some of the 15,000 Gazans who have fled their homes due to Israel’s ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, which began on Saturday.
UNRWA says it handed over the GPS coordinates of all UN installations throughout the Gaza Strip to the Israeli military. The school was clearly marked as a UN facility.
Earlier on Tuesday, the United Nations confirmed that three refugees had been killed at 11:30 on Monday night when Israeli forces fired directly on a UNRWA school in Gaza City.
According to the UN, Another UNRWA school also came under fire in the city of Rafah. An UNRWA health clinic in Al-Bureij Refugee Camp was also damaged when an Israeli missile hit an adjacent building, injuring ten medics and patients.
“There’s nowhere safe in Gaza. Everyone here is terrorized and traumatized,” said John Ging, the top UN official in Gaza. He also said that people in Gaza are “entitled” to action by the international community to stop the Israeli invasion.
“I am appealing to political leaders here and in the region and the world to get their act together and stop this,” he said, speaking at Gaza’s largest hospital. “They are responsible for these deaths.”
“I am not apologizing”
Israeli army Spokeswoman Avital Leibovich claimed that a mortar had been fired from the school, and that Israeli forces responded with one mortar shell.
Speaking to Al-Jazeera, Leibovich said she had “no information” about whether Israeli forces had obtained the GPS coordinates of the school.
“Let me be clear – I am not apologizing,” Leibovich said in response to a presenter’s question.
Ma’an attempted to contact the Israeli military spokesperson’s office without success.
Tuesday’s attack has drawn comparisons to the 1996 Israeli shelling of a UN compound in Qana, southern Lebanon, in which 106 civilians were killed.
Hamas has condemned the attack as a “massacre”.
See youtube video of the strike here