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Home / News / Israel pounds Gaza refugee camp as war enters ninth month

Israel pounds Gaza refugee camp as war enters ninth month

Israeli forces have bombarded a Gaza refugee camp after a deadly strike on a United Nations-run school in the territory, as the war enters its ninth month.

The conflict has killed thousands, laid waste to much of Gaza, uprooted most of its 2.4 million population and put them at risk of starvation.

Efforts to mediate the first ceasefire since a week-long pause in November appear to have stalled, only a week after US President Joe Biden offered a new road map.

Hamas has yet to respond to the proposal while Israel has expressed openness to discussions but remains committed to its goal of destroying the Palestinian Islamist group.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, said that at least 37 people died in yesterday’s Israeli strike on the UN-run school in Nuseirat camp.

The Israeli military said its fighter jets killed nine “terrorists” in three classrooms where about 30 militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad were hiding.

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said hundreds of displaced Gazans were sheltering at the school, which was “hit without prior warning”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the strike as “horrific”, while Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu Zeid condemned what he called the “deliberate bombing of an UNRWA school”.

“Israeli violations of Palestinian rights continue day after day, in full view of the civilised world,” Mr Zeid said on social media.

Israeli strikes across Gaza

The United States, which provides Israel with $3.8 billion (€3.5bn) in annual military aid, urged its ally to be “fully” transparent about the strike.

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

Eyewitnesses said the Nuseirat refugee camp came under attack again today as Gaza faced Israeli attacks from land, sea, and air.

Witnesses also reported Israeli strikes east of Deir al-Balah and intensive fire from army vehicles near the Bureij camp, where a fire was raging.

The Israeli military said it “eliminated dozens of terrorists” in eastern Bureij and Deir al-Balah.

It released footage of soldiers conducting operations in bombed-out buildings in the southern city of Rafah.

Six people were killed and several wounded in an Israeli strike on the Wafati home in Maghazi camp, according to a source at Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital.

Fighter jets targeted the Al-Sultan neighbourhood of Rafah, reports from the city on the border with Egypt said.

Gaza also came under fire from the sea, with Israeli warships bombarding homes in the fishermen’s port and other areas west of Gaza City.

Osama al-Kahlut of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said “occupation forces and snipers” east of Deir al-Balah were firing on people along Gaza’s main thoroughfare.

“Gunfire on Salaheddin Street has severely restricted people’s movement, and several wounded people have been evacuated from the area,” he added.

Black smoke rises over a building following Israeli attacks in Deir al-Balah

The war was sparked by the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli 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 36,731 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Some 77 of them died in the past 24 hours, it said.

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

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accepted an invitation from US politicians to address Congress on 24 July, a congressional source said.

A week ago, President Biden outlined what he called an 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, with 16 world leaders joining Mr Biden’s call for Hamas to accept the deal.

“There is no time to lose. We call on Hamas to close this agreement,” the joint statement said.

A young boy is among a number of people waiting for treatment at a hospital in Deir el-Balah

Egypt’s state-linked Al-Qahera news quoted a high-level source as saying that Cairo had “received positive signs from the Palestinian movement signalling its aspiration for a ceasefire”.

But the Beirut-based senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan cast doubt on the proposal, calling it “just words”.

Qatar said that Hamas has not yet given its response to the plan.

Major sticking points include Hamas insisting on a permanent ceasefire and full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza – demands that Israel has rejected.

Latest Middle East stories

The war has caused tensions to soar across the Middle East, with increased violence between Israel and its allies on one side, and Iran-backed armed groups on the other.

The Israeli military said that a soldier was killed on Wednesday in a drone strike by Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group on Hurfeish.

Israeli politicians have threatened more intense fighting against Hezbollah.

Mr Netanyahu said this week that Israel was “prepared for a very intense operation” along the border with Lebanon.

“The state of Israel is in a difficult campaign on many fronts. This effort is being carried out amid complicated international pressure on us,” he added.

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