A child wounded by an Israeli attack

A child wounded by an Israeli attack on a school-turned-refugee camp is carried to the emergency ward of Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza on July 9, 2024.

(Photo: Bashar Taleb/AFP via Getty Images)

'Horrific Massacre': Israel Bombs Gaza School Used as Refugee Camp, Killing Dozens

"Schools have gone from safe places of education and hope for children to overcrowded shelters and often ending up a place of death and misery," said UNRWA's commissioner-general.

Israeli forces killed dozens of people Tuesday in an airstrike on a school-turned-refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, the fourth school Israel's military has bombed in as many days as the country continues its massive assault on the enclave's starving population.

At least 29 people were killed and dozens more were wounded in Tuesday's attack, including women and children—who have made up roughly two-thirds of those killed in Israel's latest assault on Gaza, which began following a Hamas-led attack in October. The death toll from Tuesday's attack is expected to rise, as many of those injured were reportedly in critical condition and taken to the under-resourced and overwhelmed Nasser Hospital.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) acknowledged carrying out the airstrike—which hit the entrance of the school—but claimed to be targeting a Hamas militant "adjacent" to the complex. The IDF, whose internal investigations rarely result in accountability for atrocities, said the "incident is under review."

Video footage posted to social media shows displaced Palestinians playing in the schoolyard when the airstrike hit, sparking panic and chaos.

(Warning: The footage is graphic.)

Citing witnesses, the BBCreported that "the area was teeming with displaced people at the time" of the airstrike, which "resulted in widespread destruction and the deaths of women and children."

"Body parts were scattered across the site and many people staying in tents outside the school were also injured," the British outlet reported. "Ayman Al-Dahma, 21, told the BBC there had been as many as 3,000 people packed into the area at the time, which he said housed a market and residential buildings. Describing the number of casualties as 'unimaginable,' he said he had seen people whose limbs had been severed by the blast."

Tuesday's attack marked the fourth time in four days that the IDF has attacked a school in the Gaza Strip, according to Agence France-Presse. Over the weekend, Israeli forces killed more than a dozen Palestinians in an attack on a United Nations-run school in central Gaza.

Most of Gaza's education infrastructure has been damaged or completely destroyed by Israeli forces, and the schools still standing are being used to shelter those displaced by the IDF assault, which is now in its 10th month. The United Nations estimates that 90% of Gaza's population has been internally displaced since October, with some displaced up to 10 times.

Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East called the IDF's latest attack "a horrific massacre," adding, "Annihilation is the point."

"Nothing can justify Canada's failure to act," the group wrote on social media.

Canada is one of a number of major countries that have supplied weaponry to the Israeli government as it has carried out its utter devastation of the Gaza Strip, nearly all of which is now uninhabitable.

The United States and Germany together provided 99% of the arms Israel imported last year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Germany's Foreign Office called Wednesday's attack "unacceptable" and demanded a swift investigation.

"People seeking shelter in schools getting killed is unacceptable. Civilians, especially children, must not get caught in the crossfire," the foreign office said. "The repeated attacks on schools by the Israeli army must stop."

Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner-general of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said Wednesday that "schools have gone from safe places of education and hope for children to overcrowded shelters and often ending up a place of death and misery."

"Nine months in, under our watch, the relentless, endless killings, destruction, and despair continue. Gaza is no place for children," he added. "The blatant disregard of international humanitarian law cannot become the new normal... Cease-fire now before we lose what is left of our common humanity."

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