Today: May 26, 2024
Today: May 26, 2024

Palestinians say Israeli strike hits U.N.-run school as Blinken meets Arab leaders

Share This
LA Post: Palestinians say Israeli strike hits U.N.-run school as Blinken meets Arab leaders
November 03, 2023
Nidal al-Mughrabi, Simon Lewis and Suleiman Al-Khalidi - Reuters

By Nidal al-Mughrabi, Simon Lewis and Suleiman Al-Khalidi

GAZA/AMMAN (Reuters) - Palestinians reported a deadly Israeli air strike on a U.N.-run school in northern Gaza serving as a shelter on Saturday as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met regional Arab leaders to discuss how to contain the conflict.

Palestinian witnesses said Israel hit Al-Fakhoura school in Jabalia, where thousands of evacuees were living in the morning. At least 15 people died and dozens more were wounded, said Gaza health ministry official Mohammad Abu Selmeyah.

Reuters footage of the aftermath showed broken furniture and other belongings lying on the ground, patches of blood spilled on the ground and over food and people crying.

"I was standing here when three bombings happened, I carried a body and another decapitated body with my own hands," a young boy said in video obtained by Reuters, crying in despair. "God will take my vengeance."

Nearby, a resident comforted a woman in shock.

One man asked angrily: "Since when has it become normal to strike shelters? This is so unfair."

Juliette Touma, director of communication for the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), confirmed to Reuters that the U.N-run school, which is in the Gaza City area, had been hit.

She said there were children among the casualties, but that UNRWA had not yet been able to verify the exact death toll.

"At least one strike hit the schoolyard where there were tents for displaced families. Another strike hit inside the school where women were baking bread," Touma said by phone.

A series of reported air strikes over the past week have devastated parts of the Jabalia refugee camp, the largest of several refugee settlements in Gaza, killing at least 195 people, according to Palestinian authorities.

The ministry of health in Gaza said another Israeli missile strike killed two women at the door of the Nasser Children Hospital. Several more people were injured, it said.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment on either incident.

GAZANS TOO SCARED TO MOVE SOUTH

Israel's ground forces encircled Gaza City on Thursday after stepping up a bombing campaign it says aims at wiping out Hamas, after the militant group which runs Gaza killed 1,400 people and took more than 240 hostage in an Oct. 7 assault in southern Israel.

Gaza health officials said on Saturday that more than 9,488 Palestinians have been killed so far in the Israeli assault.

Israel last month ordered all civilians to leave the northern part of the Gaza Strip, including Gaza City where it says Hamas militants are hiding in tunnels, and head to the south of the enclave.

It has continued to bomb the whole enclave, saying the militants are hiding among civilians, and many people have stayed in the north, where they say they now feel trapped.

The military said it would enable Palestinians to travel on a main Gaza Strip highway, the Salah a-Din road, during a three-hour window on Saturday afternoon. "If you care about yourself and your loved ones, heed our instruction to head south," it said in a social media post in Arabic.

Several residents told Reuters they were too afraid to use the road due to Israeli forces and many posted warnings on social media that Israeli tanks were stationed on it.

U.S. Special Envoy David Satterfield said in Amman that between 800,000 to a million people had moved to the south of the Gaza Strip, while 350,000-400,000 remained in northern Gaza City and its environs.

Israel has imposed a full blockade on Gaza and allowed very little aid in from Egypt, saying it fears it would be stolen by Hamas. Satterfield said there were no recorded instances of Hamas seizing aid.

BLINKEN HEARS CEASEFIRE DEMANDS

Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told Blinken at the meeting in Amman with the Saudi, Qatari, Emirati and Egyptian foreign ministers that efforts to mediate the release of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip were complicated by the continued bombardment of the enclave, Qatar's foreign ministry said.

Ahead of the meeting, Jordan said the Arab leaders would stress the "Arab stance calling for an immediate ceasefire, delivering humanitarian aid and ways of ending the dangerous deterioration that threatens the security of the region".

In what appeared to presage a widening of Israel's ground offensive, the military issued footage showing armoured bulldozers churning up northern Gaza areas in what it described as "creating access routes for forces".

A combined tank and combat engineering unit carried out a "pinpoint raid" in the southern Gaza Strip "to map out buildings and neutralise explosives", it said.

Israel's military also said it was striking what it described as "a number of Hezbollah terror targets in Lebanon" following fire from there, part of the biggest flareup in violence along the Israel-Lebanon border since 2006.

A Lebanese source familiar with Hezbollah's attacks said it had used a powerful missile for the first time to hit an Israeli position across the border from the villages of Ayta al-Shaab and Rmeich.

The Hezbollah movement in Lebanon is backed by Iran, as is Hamas. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Friday warned that conflict could spread if Israel continued bombing Gaza.

Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati emphasized the urgency of a ceasefire in Gaza when he met Blinken in Amman, Lebanon state news agency said. Blinken, in turn, emphasized the importance of containing any spillover.

"He stressed the importance of ensuring the Israel-Hamas conflict does not spread elsewhere," spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

ISRAEL SAYS NO PAUSE UNLESS HOSTAGES ARE FREED

Washington has maintained robust military and political support for Israel, while calling on its ally to take steps to avoid civilian deaths and address Gaza's humanitarian crisis.

The diplomatic adviser to the United Arab Emirates' president told a policy conference in Abu Dhabi that Washington needed to push for a quick end to the conflict and a new strategy, or else be considered ineffective by the region.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Gaza must be part of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state once the Israel-Hamas war is over.

Gaza's living conditions, already dire before the fighting, have deteriorated further. Food is scarce, residents have resorted to drinking salty water, medical services are collapsing.

Hamas has prepared for a protracted war in Gaza and believes it can hold up Israel's advance long enough to force a ceasefire, two sources close to the organization's leadership said. They said it also seeks concessions like the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli hostages.

The United States has dismissed growing international calls for a ceasefire but has sought to persuade Israel to accept localized pauses, an idea rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after he met Blinken on Friday.

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Simon Lewis and Suleiman Al-Khalidi in Amman, Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Writing by Daphne Psaledakis and Ingrid Melander; Editing by Rami Ayyub, Diane Craft, Michael Perry and William Mallard, Philippa Fletcher)

Popular

Car bomb in the Syrian capital kills one. Drone strike near Lebanon border targets two vehicles

Syria's state media says a bomb attached to a car exploded in the western part of the Syrian capital that is home to several diplomatic missions, killing one person and causing material damage

Car bomb in the Syrian capital kills one. Drone strike near Lebanon border targets two vehicles

Bangladesh evacuates hundreds of thousands as a severe cyclone approaches from the Bay of Bengal

Bangladesh has evacuated nearly 800,000 people from vulnerable areas as the country and neighboring India await the arrival of a severe cyclone that has formed over the Bay of Bengal

Bangladesh evacuates hundreds of thousands as a severe cyclone approaches from the Bay of Bengal

Aid trucks begin entering Gaza under agreement with Egypt to bypass Rafah

Aid trucks have begun entering Gaza from southern Israel through a new agreement to bypass the Rafah crossing with Egypt after Israeli forces seized the Palestinian side of it earlier this month

Aid trucks begin entering Gaza under agreement with Egypt to bypass Rafah

Aid shipments to southern Gaza may resume Friday night, Egyptian security sources say

Humanitarian food and fuel shipments may start coming into southern Gaza via Israel's Kerem Shalom crossing as early as Friday evening, Egyptian security sources said,

Aid shipments to southern Gaza may resume Friday night, Egyptian security sources say

Mediated Israel-Hamas talks on hostage deal expected next week, source says

Mediated negotiations between Israel and Hamas to reach a deal to free Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip are due to restart next week, an official with knowledge of the

Mediated Israel-Hamas talks on hostage deal expected next week, source says

Related

G7 aims to use frozen Russian assets to help 'desperate' Ukraine

G7 aims to use frozen Russian assets to help 'desperate' Ukraine

After China drills, Taiwan president again extends goodwill

After China drills, Taiwan president again extends goodwill

Ahead of another donor conference for Syria, humanitarian workers fear more aid cuts

Ahead of another donor conference for Syria, humanitarian workers fear more aid cuts

Zimbabwe authorities mix charm with force in an attempt to shore up the world’s newest currency

Zimbabwe authorities mix charm with force in an attempt to shore up the world’s newest currency
- Advertisement -
Advertisement: Limited Time Offer