Unrwa: UN school was sheltering 6,000 displaced people when struck by Israel

Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of Unrwa, has said that 6,000 displaced Palestinians were sheltering in the Unrwa school in Nuseirat refugee camp which was struck by Israel overnight, describing it as “another horrific day in Gaza”.

In a message in which he did not completely rule out Israeli claims that Hamas fighters were also in the vicinity of the strike, he said the strike happened “without prior warning to the displaced or Unrwa” and that at least 35 people had been killed, continuing:

The school was sheltering 6,000 displaced people when it was hit. Claims that armed groups may have been inside the shelter are shocking. We are however unable to verify these claims.

Attacking, targeting or using UN buildings for military purposes are a blatant disregard of International Humanitarian law. UN staff, premises and operations must be protected at all times.

Since the war in Gaza began, over 180 Unrwa buildings were hit and more than 450 displaced people were killed as a result.

Unrwa shares the coordinates of all its facilities (including this school) with the Israeli Army and other parties to the conflict.

Targeting UN premises or using them for military purposes cannot become the new norm. This must stop and all those responsible must be held accountable.

Key events

Summary of the day …

  • Israel bombed a UN school sheltering thousands of displaced Palestinians in central Gaza in the early hours of Thursday morning, killing at least 33 people including 23 women and children, according to hospital records and an eyewitness

  • Missiles hit the second and third floors of the al-Sardi school in Deir al-Balah, where the UN said about 6,000 people were living. Unrwa, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, called for an investigation into the attack, with scores also reported injured. CNN has reported that US-made munitions were used in the Israeli strike

  • The Israeli military said it targeted “20 or 30” Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters who took part in the 7 October attack and were using the school as an operations centre. The military spokesperson Lt Col Peter Lerner said he was not aware of any civilian casualties

  • The White House has issued a statement on behalf of a number of nations calling for Hamas to agree to a deal with a ceasefire and a release of hostages. Signatories include the US, UK, Germany, France and Spain

  • Spain will ask a UN court for permission to join South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza. Foreign minister José Manuel Albares said “We take the decision because of the ongoing military operation in Gaza. We want peace to return to Gaza and the Middle East, and for that to happen we must all support the court”

  • Yemen’s Houthi group says it has it launched two joint military operations with the Iraqi Islamic Resistance against ships at Israel’s Haifa port. Israel denied the attacks had taken place

  • Israel’s military has reported that one soldier was killed in a drone attack in northern Israel yesterday

  • Palestinian news agency Wafa reports that an Israeli military court has today extended the detention of its journalist Rasha Harzallah for five days. She was detained on Sunday

Israel’s military spokesperson Lt Col Peter Lerner has denied claims by Yemen’s Houthis they had attacked ships in Israel’s northern Haifa port.

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In the UK, Oxfam has issued a statement on Israel’s attack on a UN school in Gaza. It said:

Israel’s attack on a UN school, forcibily displacing civilians in Gaza yet again, may amount to a grave violation under international law. Dozens of people – including children – were slaughtered while they slept.

“It is a disgrace that a ceasefire is still not in place and that international law may have been broken by Israel again with full impunity. This relentless nightmare has to stop now – not in a few days, not in a few weeks. Civilians in Gaza must be protected and world leaders must both stop Israel from continuing this carnage and providing the political cover for them to do so.

Islamic Relief has also responded to the attack, saying:

We are outraged at yet another horrific attack on families trying to find shelter in Gaza, with reports of dozens killed by Israeli bombing of a UN-run school where thousands of displaced people are sheltering. These atrocities are happening with shocking frequency and impunity.

In the past few weeks Israel has ordered more than 1 million Palestinians to move, then starved them of aid and bombed them as they seek refuge in tents, school classrooms or by the roadside. People in Gaza have nowhere safe to go.

International governments and world leaders have repeatedly talked of red lines, then fail to act after yet another massacre. They must use all their influence and leverage to demand an end to these attacks and an immediate ceasefire.

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Yemen’s Houthi group says it has it launched two joint military operations with the Iraqi Islamic Resistance against ships at Israel’s Haifa port.

Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Saree said in a televised statement:

The first targeted two ships carrying military equipments in the port of Haifa, while the second targeted a ship that violated the decision to ban entry to the port.

Here are some of the latest images being sent back from photographers on the ground in Gaza:

A Palestinian boy looks at a pool of blood at a UN school housing displacing people that was hit during Israeli bombardment in Nuseirat. Photograph: Bashar Taleb/AFP/Getty Images
Palestinians after the attack on the UN school. Photograph: Bashar Taleb/AFP/Getty Images
A Palestinian boy in Nusairat in the Gaza Strip. Photograph: APAImages/REX/Shutterstock
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Palestinian news agency Wafa reports that an Israeli military court has today extended the detention of its journalist Rasha Harzallah for five days. She was detained on Sunday.

Unrwa: UN school was sheltering 6,000 displaced people when struck by Israel

Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of Unrwa, has said that 6,000 displaced Palestinians were sheltering in the Unrwa school in Nuseirat refugee camp which was struck by Israel overnight, describing it as “another horrific day in Gaza”.

In a message in which he did not completely rule out Israeli claims that Hamas fighters were also in the vicinity of the strike, he said the strike happened “without prior warning to the displaced or Unrwa” and that at least 35 people had been killed, continuing:

The school was sheltering 6,000 displaced people when it was hit. Claims that armed groups may have been inside the shelter are shocking. We are however unable to verify these claims.

Attacking, targeting or using UN buildings for military purposes are a blatant disregard of International Humanitarian law. UN staff, premises and operations must be protected at all times.

Since the war in Gaza began, over 180 Unrwa buildings were hit and more than 450 displaced people were killed as a result.

Unrwa shares the coordinates of all its facilities (including this school) with the Israeli Army and other parties to the conflict.

Targeting UN premises or using them for military purposes cannot become the new norm. This must stop and all those responsible must be held accountable.

US-made munitions used by Israel in strike on Unrwa school in Gaza – reports

CNN has reported that US-made munitions were used in the Israeli strike on the Unrwa school in the Nuseirat refugee camp.

Dozens of people, including children, have been reported killed by the strike, which Israel has claimed was on a Hamas compound operating from the school.

CNN reports:

CNN identified fragments of at least two US-made GBU-39 small diameter bombs (SDB) in video filmed at the scene by a journalist working for CNN.

This incident is the second time in two weeks that CNN has been able to verify the use of US-manufactured munitions in deadly Israeli attacks on displaced Palestinians.

US, UK, France, Germany and Spain among 17 nations issuing joint statement calling on Hamas to accept deal

The White House has issued a statement on behalf of a number of nations calling for Hamas to agree to a deal with a ceasefire and a release of hostages. It says:

As leaders of countries deeply concerned for the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, including many of our own citizens, we fully support the movement towards a ceasefire and hostage release deal now on the table and as outlined by President Biden on 31 May, 2024. There is no time to lose. We call on Hamas to close this agreement, that Israel is ready to move forward with, and begin the process of releasing our citizens.

We note that this agreement would lead to an immediate ceasefire and rehabilitation of Gaza together with security assurances for Israelis, and Palestinians, and opportunities for a more enduring long-term peace and a two-state solution. At this decisive moment, we call on the leaders of Israel as well as Hamas to make whatever final compromises are necessary to close this deal and bring relief to the families of our hostages, as well as those on both sides of this terrible conflict, including the civilian populations. It is time for the war to end and this deal is the necessary starting point.

The White House says the statement was issued by “the leaders of the US, Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, and the UK.”

Talks involving mediators from Qatar, Egypt and the US aimed at reaching a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza war were still under way on Thursday but had shown no sign of a breakthrough, two Egyptian security sources have told Reuters.

Spain’s foreign minister: support for ICJ genocide case is so peace can return to Gaza

Spain will ask a UN court for permission to join South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza.

Associated Press reports foreign minister José Manuel Albares said “We take the decision because of the ongoing military operation in Gaza. We want peace to return to Gaza and the Middle East, and for that to happen we must all support the court.”

Preliminary hearings have already been held in the case, but the court is expected to take years to reach a final decision. Mexico, Colombia, Nicaragua, Libya and the Palestinians have already requested to join the case. South Africa filed its case with the International Court of Justice late last year, alleging Israel was breaching the genocide convention in its military assault on Gaza.

The court has ordered Israel to immediately halt its military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. Israel has not complied, and does not recognise the court.

Spain, Ireland and Norway formally recognised a Palestinian state on 28 May, meaning over two-thirds of UN member states have done so.

Its request to join the case is the latest move by the government of Pedro Sánchez to support peacemaking efforts in Gaza. While Sánchez has denounced the attacks by Hamas and joined demands for the return of the remaining Israeli hostages, there has been a diplomatic backlash from Israel. Israeli foreign minister Israel Katz said that by recognising a Palestinian state, Sánchez’s government was “being complicit in inciting genocide against Jews and war crimes.”

The Hamas-led health authorities in Gaza claim that over 36,000 Palestinians have been killed since 7 October by Israel’s relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip and its ground offensive.

The Hamas attack inside Israel on 7 October killed about 1,140 people, about 250 people were seized and abducted as hostages and taken to Gaza. Many of those are subsequently known to have died. Israel says 294 of its troops have been killed during operations inside Gaza. It has not been possible for journalists to independently verify the casualty figures being issued during the conflict.

Israel’s military has said overnight it struck multiple targets inside Lebanon, including what it claimed was “a weapons storage facility”.

Gaza officials claim 14 children among those killed by Israeli strike on UN school

The director of the Hamas-run Gaza government media office Ismail Al-Thawabta and a Gaza health ministry official told Reuters on Thursday that 40 people were killed and 73 were wounded in the Israeli attack on the Nuseirat school in the Gaza Strip.

The two officials added that 14 children and 9 women were killed in the strike.

Earlier, Unrwa communications director Juliette Touma told Reuters that the number of those reported killed in the Israeli offensive on the Nuseirat school was between 35 and 45, adding the number could not be confirmed at this stage.

Israel maintains that the target was a Hamas compound based in the school. It claims that 20-30 fighters were killed. A military spokesperson for Israel said it was unaware of civilian casualties.

The claims have not been independently verified. It has not been possible for journalists to independently verify the casualty figures being issued during the conflict.

Here is a wider view of the UN school that was struck by Israel.

Palestinians walk at a UN-school housing displacing people that was hit during Israeli bombardment in Nuseirat, 6 June. Photograph: Bashar Taleb/AFP/Getty Images

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