At least 15 people, including U.N. staff members, were killed on Thursday when an Israeli airstrike hit a U.N. school in the Gaza Strip, as the Palestinian death toll on the 17th day of the conflict rose to above 800, according to medical sources.
Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said at least 15 people had been killed and 200 wounded by Israeli shelling of a school run by the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in the northern town of Beit Hanun, where hundreds had sought refuge from the violence, AFP reported.
“Many have been killed -- including women and children, as well as U.N. staff,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said. said in statement.
A later air strike between the southern cities of Rafah and Khan Yunis killed seven people, the “majority of them children” from three different families, Qudra said.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the deadly school raid “underscores the need” for a ceasefire and resolution of the conflict.
“This ... underscores the need to end the violence and to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and enduring resolution of the crisis in Gaza as soon as possible,” said Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for Kerry, who is trying to secure a truce to curtail 17 days of fighting.
“We again urge all parties to redouble their efforts to protect civilians,” she said.
The deaths raised Thursday's toll in Gaza to 93, according to Qudra's figures, with 788 killed in total and more than 5,000 wounded.
Those numbers do not include more than a dozen Palestinian militants killed after infiltrating southern Israel since the conflict began on July 8.
Among those killed on Thursday were seven who died in air strikes and tank fire in and around Khuzaa near Khan Yunis in southern Gaza.
Five people from the Abu Daqqa family were killed along with two from the Najjar family, Qudra told AFP.
Areas east of Khan Yunis near the Israeli border have come under heavy bombardment in recent days, with emergency services trying to coordinate with the Red Cross to gain access to evacuate civilians.
“We have been receiving dozens of appeals from residents of Khuzaa, Abasan and Bani Suheila in Khan Yunis asking us to evacuate them, and saying there were a lot of people killed and injured underneath the rubble of their houses,” Qudra said.
So far, 32 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the conflict, along with two Israeli civilians and one Thai farm worker.
The army's losses are its heaviest since a 2006 war with Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
[With AFP and Reuters]SHOW MORE