At least 16 people were killed after rockets struck a U.N.-run school sheltering Palestinians in northern Gaza, officials said on Thursday. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, 200 people were wounded in the attack. This marks the fourth time that a UN facility has been hit since Israel began Operation Protective Edge on July 8, the BBC reports.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed horror at the Thursday attack on the school at Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza strip. “Many have been killed – including women and children, as well as U.N. staff,” he said in a statement. “Circumstances are still unclear. I strongly condemn this act.”
Nearly 750 Palestinians and at least 32 Israeli soldiers have been killed in the fighting, which intensified last week when Israel launched a ground operation to destroy tunnels used by Hamas to deploy a regular stream of rockets into Israel. The international community has struggled to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, even as the United Nations has condemned both sides in the conflict.
The Israeli military said it was investigating the school incident. Israel Defense Forces spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner told Reuters TV: “It could be errant fire from the IDF or rockets landing from Gaza terrorists but we still don’t know, there’s still a question mark.”
Survivors told CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen that they were warned that the school was targeted and they were preparing to leave when they say Israeli forces opened fire. Kamel al-Kafarne, who was in the school, said that the U.N. was putting people on buses when three tank shells hit. “We were about to get out of the school, then they hit the school. They kept on shelling it,” he said.
Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the Gaza Health Ministry, said that besides the 15 dead, 200 people had been wounded in the attack. The director of a local hospital said various medical centres around Beit Hanoun were receiving the wounded.
In the West Bank, some 10,000 protesters marching in support of their Gaza compatriots clashed with Israeli troops and at least one protester was killed and some 200 were injured, Palestinian hospital officials said. Read more about the story here.