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

Gaza officials say 49 bodies found at Al-Shifa hospital
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A hospital in central Gaza said Thursday at least 37 people were killed in Israeli bombardment overnight of a UN-run school which the Israeli military said housed a “Hamas compound”.

The deadly strike came as US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators have resumed talks aimed at securing a truce and hostage release deal 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 in the area of Nuseirat”, in the central Gaza Strip.

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, updating an initial death toll of 27 provided by the Hamas government media office which condemned it as a “horrific massacre… that shames humanity”.

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

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

Israeli warplanes also carried out strikes in eastern and central neighbourhoods of Rafah, Gaza’s southermost city, a local source told AFP.

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 ensuing bombardment and ground offensive have killed at least 36,586 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

– Sticking points –

As the fighting, set to enter its ninth month on Friday, 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.

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

G7 powers and Arab states have backed the proposal although major sticking points remain — Hamas insists on a permanent truce and full Israeli withdrawal, demands that Israel has flatly rejected.

A source with knowledge of the negotiations confirmed to AFP that a meeting took place on Wednesday “between the Qatari prime minister and head of Egyptian intelligence with Hamas in the Qatari capital Doha to discuss a deal for a truce in Gaza and the exchange of hostages and prisoners”.

Biden has urged Hamas to accept the deal and has deployed CIA chief Bill Burns to Qatar, where the group’s political bureau is based, for a renewed push after months of stalled negotiations.

The source said Burns would “continue working with mediators on reaching an agreement between Hamas and Israel on a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of hostages”.

A senior Hamas official in Beirut has accused Israel of seeking “endless” negotiations, while its leader Ismail Haniyeh said the Islamist movement would “deal seriously and positively” with any offer meeting its key demands.

Muhammad al-Najjar, a 35-year-old man from northern Gaza twice displaced by the war, told AFP he was “exhausted” by the war, which has “destroyed us and destroyed everything in our lives”.

“We just want to… end the catastrophic situation that we are living.”

– Lebanon ‘escalation’ –

Gaza’s bloodiest ever 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, causing more deaths and igniting wildfires.

The Israeli military on Thursday announced the latest fatality, a soldier killed the day before in “fighting in the north”, where two explosive drones from Lebanon hit the town of Hurfeish.

He is one of at least 15 soldiers and 11 civilians killed on the Israeli side on the border since clashes began in early October, according to the army.

In Lebanon, the violence has killed at least 455 people, mostly fighters but including 88 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

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

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that 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 taking action, with the State Department saying that any “escalation” there would risk Israeli security.

 

 

 

 

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AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.







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