Israel ramps up attacks in Gaza, striking schools, hospitals and mosques

As the Israeli army’s assault intensifies, a UN school reportedly sheltering many displaced women and children is bombed.

A day after Israel struck a convoy of ambulances transporting critically wounded patients from the al-Shifa Hospital to the Rafah border crossing, the Israeli army has intensified its bombardment of the Gaza Strip, hitting schools, mosques and more hospitals.

On Saturday morning an Israeli air missile struck the Al Fakhoura school run by the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in the Jabalia refugee camp, killing at least 15 people and injuring 54, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

“The number [of deaths] is expected to rise,” said Muhammad Abu Silmeyeh, director of Al-Shifa Hospital.

Thousands of people displaced due to Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip had taken refuge at the Al Fakhoura school.

A witness to the attack who lost family members in the bombing told Al Jazeera that four people in their family were killed or injured.

“We have nothing to do with anything related to the Hamas movement. The room only had children and women,” the witness added.

The attack on the school is the third major attack on the Jabalia camp.

It came hours after a deadly strike on the Osama bin Zaid school sheltering displaced families in the al-Saftawi area north of Gaza City, killing at least 20 people, according to local media.

On Saturday morning, the entrance of the al-Nasser Children’s Hospital in western Gaza City was also attacked, and several local media outlets reported civilian casualties.

The Health Ministry’s spokesperson has said an estimated 2,200 people, including 1,250 children, are currently buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings in Gaza.

Generators and solar panels

Israeli forces also attacked power generators and solar panels at al-Wafa Hospital in Gaza City, according to local media.

An Anadolu agency correspondent reported that the bombing resulted in a significant fire in the hospital courtyard, which was eventually controlled by civil defence teams after several hours.

That hospital attack comes a day after the Israeli army attacked the entrance to al-Shifa Hospital and areas surrounding al-Quds Hospital and the Indonesian Hospital.

According to journalist Hani Mahmoud in Khan Younis in Gaza’s south, Israeli air attacks have also hit residential homes with solar panels.

“This seems to be the last nail in the coffin,” he told Al Jazeera.

“What the Israel army wants people to do is to leave. The last source that’s keeping them in Gaza was the tiny bit of electricity they got from the solar panels,” he said.

Meanwhile, a water tank in eastern Rafah was also destroyed. “It seems to be another way of telling people, ‘We are going to bomb everything that you rely on for your survival,'” he added.

Gaza-based Al-Aqsa TV reported that the public water tank was used to supply several neighbourhoods.

Separately, an Anadolu correspondent reported that the Israeli army bombed two mosques – the Ali bin Abi Talib and the Al-Istijabah mosques – in the al-Sabra neighbourhood, also in southern Gaza.

Tamer Qarmout, assistant professor in public policy at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, told Al Jazeera that this is part of Israel’s war strategy.

“There are discussions in Israeli media that the Israeli army will get into phase two of its operations in Gaza starting from next week. This means tactical land operations inside Gaza. So what Israel wants to do before that is to have all the civilians leave to the south,” he said.

“So what they’re [Israel’s army] doing is depriving the civilians stuck in northern Gaza from any means of living. So they’ve hit water tanks, hit civil facilities, hospitals and even UNRWA schools where people are taking refuge. Soon, people will be left with no option but to go south,” Qarmout added.

He noted that while the Israeli army had ordered civilians in Gaza to temporarily move south since the beginning of its operation on the besieged Strip, many people have stayed because of safety concerns amid the Israeli army’s continuous bombardment of the entire enclave.

“People have tried to flee south but the road has been bombed. How can they feel safe if there is no humanitarian corridor to go south?” Qarmout said.

INTERACTIVE - Gaza's two main roads-1698910711

The Israeli army has said that residents of the northern Gaza Strip will be allowed to use Salah al-Din Street, the main road in Gaza, to evacuate south between 11:00 GMT and 14:00 GMT on Saturday.

But according to Qarmout, Israel has a history of breaking promises in warfare.

“What are the guarantees that Israel still won’t bombard while fleeing south? There are no international guarantors like the UN to monitor and ensure that people will not be attacked,” he said. “Let’s say the Red Cross is given this mandate. Then people will be ensured and feel safe.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies