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Gaza: Israeli strike on school kills more than 30 as Spain joins ICJ genocide case

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in an Israeli bombardment of the UNRWA school at Nusseirat refugee camp, in front of the morgue of al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital.
Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in an Israeli bombardment of the UNRWA school at Nusseirat refugee camp, in front of the morgue of al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital. Copyright AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana
Copyright AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana
By Euronews with AP
Published on Updated
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Israel's military has not yet offered evidence for its claim Hamas and Jihadi militants were plotting attacks from the site.

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An Israeli strike on a school sheltering displaced Palestinians in central Gaza killed more than 30 people, including 23 women and children, according to local health officials.

The strike on early Thursday morning came after the military announced a new ground and air assault in several refugee camps in central Gaza, pursuing Hamas militants it says have regrouped there.

Witnesses and hospital officials said the predawn strike hit the al-Sardi School, run by the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). The school was filled with Palestinians who had fled Israeli offensives and bombardment in northern Gaza, they said.

The Israeli military claimed Hamas militants were operating from within the school, but has yet to offer clear evidence.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the nearby town of Deir al-Balah received at least 33 dead from the strike, including 14 children and nine women, according to hospital records and an Associated Press reporter at the hospital.

Another strike on a house overnight killed six people, according to the hospital.

A UN aid worker in Nuseirat, Gaza Strip.
A UN aid worker in Nuseirat, Gaza Strip.Abdel Kareem Hana/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

The Israeli military said Hamas had embedded a "compound" within the school and that Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants inside were using it as a shelter where they were planning attacks against Israeli troops, though it did not immediately offer evidence.

It released a photo of the school, pointing to classrooms on the second and third floor where it claimed militants were located.

Israel's army said it took steps before the strike "to reduce the risk of harming uninvolved civilians ... including conducting aerial surveillance, and additional intelligence information."

UNRWA schools across Gaza have functioned as shelters since the start of the war, which has driven most of the territory's population of 2.3 million Palestinians from their homes.

Spain joins international genocide case against Israel

The Spanish foreign minister, José Manuel Albares, has announced in response to the school airstrike that his country will be joining the case brought by South Africa in the International Court of Justice alleging that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.

South Africa filed its case with the International Court of Justice late last year. It alleged that Israel was breaching the genocide convention in its military assault that has laid waste to large swaths of Gaza.

The court has ordered Israel to immediately halt its military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah but stopped short of ordering a ceasefire for the enclave. Israel has not complied and shows no sign of doing so.

“We take the decision because of the ongoing military operation in Gaza,” Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares said in Madrid. “We want peace to return to Gaza and the Middle East, and for that to happen we must all support the court.”

Mexico, Colombia, Nicaragua, Libya and the Palestinians are waiting for the court in The Hague, Netherlands, to grant approval to their requests to join the case.

International condemnation of Israel's campaign is growing louder, with several European countries including Spain recognising a Palestinian state after decades of hesitancy.

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