A U.N. official said Saturday that two schools run by its agency in northern Gaza had been bombed in less than 24 hours, and video of one of the scenes, verified by The New York Times, showed numerous bodies bloody and immobile at the same time.
Palestinian officials said Saturday that scores of people were killed and injured in an Israeli attack on a UN-run school used as shelter by adults and children in the Jabaliya area, north of the city of Gaza. The Israeli military said it had received reports of an “incident” in the Jabaliya area and was being investigated.
A graphic video, whose location was verified by The Times, showed bodies lying amid scattered debris at the Al-Fakhura school, run by UNRWA, the United Nations aid agency. to Palestinian refugees.
The director of the agency, Philippe Lazzarini, said on social media Saturday that he had received “horrific images and footage of dozens of people killed and injured” in an UNRWA school “sheltering thousands of displaced people in the north of the Gaza Strip”.
Mr. Lazzarini later added that another UNRWA school had been “bombed repeatedly in northern #Gaza, housing more than 4,000 people.” He said it was “the second time in less than 24 hours that schools have not been spared. ENOUGH, these horrors must stop.
An UNRWA spokeswoman said the subsequent message referred to the Zeitoun school in Gaza City, which was hit around 3 p.m. on Friday.
The agency did not know the final tally at either school Saturday; UNRWA has not been able to directly monitor conditions at its facilities in northern Gaza since Israel’s evacuation order to the north on October 12. At that time, nearly 160,000 displaced people were sheltering in 57 of its schools, he said. Throughout Gaza, since the start of the Israeli offensive, classes have been suspended and schools transformed into shelters.
The Israeli military says its intense bombardment targets Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, but its command posts and depots are deeply enmeshed in Gaza’s neighborhoods — and in tunnels beneath them. Israeli bombings have hit sites such as apartment buildings, mosques and markets, and Israeli officials have called those sites legitimate targets, while saying they seek to limit harm to civilians.
The Israeli military said Saturday it was “committed to international law, including taking feasible measures to minimize harm to civilians.” This has said Earlier in the day, it had engaged in intensive fighting in Jabaliya, where it claimed was the command and control center of the Hamas brigade in northern Gaza.
The White House was talking with U.N. and Israeli officials to learn more about the attack on a school shelter, said Adrienne Watson, a National Security Council spokeswoman.
“We are aware of reports that civilians may have been killed while sheltering at least one UNRWA school in northern Gaza,” Ms. Watson said. “Any damage caused to a UN facility where civilians are sheltering is unacceptable. »
The civilian toll of Israel’s campaign in Gaza is drawing growing criticism from U.N. officials, who have called for an urgent ceasefire, as well as growing anger from Israel’s neighbors in Middle East. The Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced on Saturday the destruction of the Al-Fakhura school, accusing Israel of a “flagrant violation of the principles of international law” and calling for a UN investigation into attacks on hospitals and schools in Gaza.
“The ministry warns that the silence of the international community regarding the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the occupation against the Palestinian people will increase tension, widen the circle of violence and lead to further escalation and greater instability,” he said.
The Gaza Health Ministry said the Al-Fakhura school was previously hit by an Israeli airstrike in early November, killing 15 people and injuring 70 others.
Aaron Boxerman, Neil Collier, Iyad Abuheweila Aric Toler And Lisa Friedman reports contributed.