Israeli strike on Gaza school kills over 30, including women and children, amid ICJ genocide allegations

An Israeli airstrike on a UNRWA school in Gaza has resulted in significant civilian casualties, prompting Spain to join an international genocide case against Israel.

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Image Credit: AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana

An Israeli airstrike on a United Nations school sheltering displaced Palestinians in central Gaza has resulted in the deaths of more than 30 people, including 23 women and children, according to local health officials. The devastating attack has prompted Spain to join an international genocide case against Israel, intensifying global scrutiny of the ongoing conflict.

The predawn strike on Thursday targeted the al-Sardi School, run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), in the Nuseirat refugee camp. The school was filled with Palestinians who had fled Israeli offensives and bombardment in northern Gaza, seeking refuge from the escalating violence. Witnesses and hospital officials confirmed the casualties, with many victims being women and children.

The Israeli military claimed that Hamas militants were operating from within the school, using it as a shelter and planning attacks against Israeli forces. However, they have yet to provide clear evidence to support this assertion. The military released a photo of the school, highlighting classrooms on the second and third floors where they claimed militants were located.

In response to the airstrike, 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. An Associated Press reporter at the hospital confirmed the numbers. Another strike on a house overnight killed six additional people, further exacerbating the civilian death toll.

The UNRWA schools across Gaza have been serving as shelters since the start of the war, providing refuge for a significant portion of the territory’s 2.3 million Palestinians who have been driven from their homes by the conflict. The Israeli military has stated that it took steps to reduce the risk of harming civilians before the strike, including conducting aerial surveillance and gathering additional intelligence information.

Spain has announced its decision to join the genocide case brought by South Africa against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The case alleges that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza through its military actions. Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares stated, “We take the decision because of the ongoing military operation in Gaza. We want peace to return to Gaza and the Middle East, and for that to happen we must all support the court.”

South Africa filed the case with the ICJ last year, accusing Israel of breaching the genocide convention through its military assault on Gaza. The court has ordered Israel to immediately halt its military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, but Israel has not complied with the order and continues its military operations.

The airstrike on the UNRWA school has drawn international condemnation. Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib described the strike as an “appalling and unacceptable act of violence.” Lahbib emphasized the importance of respecting civilian infrastructure, noting, “This tragedy reminds us of the urgency to end the violence.”

The humanitarian situation in Gaza has deteriorated severely since the beginning of the conflict. Israeli forces have killed or injured upwards of 130,000 Palestinians in Gaza since October 7. This includes at least 11,000 people who are missing and presumed dead, buried beneath the rubble of bombed-out buildings. The forced displacement of around 2 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million people has been cited as evidence in the genocide case before the ICJ.

Advocacy groups in the United States have condemned the Biden administration’s ongoing support for Israel amidst the attacks on Gaza civilians. “There aren’t any excuses or words left to describe the horrors the U.S. government continues to fund and enable,” Justice Democrats wrote on social media. “How many more war crimes will we witness every day before we hold Israel accountable for this genocide?”

The attack on the UNRWA school is part of a broader pattern of Israeli military actions targeting civilian infrastructure in Gaza. Israeli forces have damaged or destroyed more than half of Gaza’s infrastructure, including all of its universities. The continued bombardment has left many areas without access to basic necessities, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.

UNRWA spokesperson Imran Khan noted that the IDF was aware that the al-Sardi School was a U.N. facility sheltering displaced Palestinians. “Israelis are briefing local Israeli media, saying they suspected some of the people behind the October 7 attack on Israel were staying there. That’s language that we’ve heard a lot before,” Khan reported. “Right now, we’re in this kind of ‘he-said, she-said.’ The Israeli army is very clear, saying, ‘We believe that Hamas was in that school and in that refugee camp,’ but not providing any single shred of evidence.”

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Jordan Atwood is a dynamic War and Politics Reporter known for his incisive analysis and comprehensive coverage of international conflicts and political landscapes. His work is driven by a commitment to uncovering the truth and providing a clear, informed understanding of complex geopolitical events. Jordan's reporting not only captures the realities of war but also delves into the political strategies and implications behind them, making his work essential for those seeking a deeper understanding of world affairs.

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