Israel bombs Gaza school, killing 30 Palestinians as truce talks continue

Mounting attacks on on Gaza come as mediators travel to Qatar for another round of talks to try and end the bloody conflict.

Israel’s military has ramped up attacks on the Gaza Strip, killing at least 77 Palestinians, including dozens sheltering at a school, in one of the deadliest days the enclave has endured in recent weeks.

The attacks on Tuesday came as Hamas warned that the stepped-up Israeli offensive could jeopardise mediated ceasefire talks, a new round of which is set to begin in the capital of Qatar, Doha.

In the town of Abbasan, east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, an Israeli air attack on the al-Awdah school killed at least 30 people and wounded 53, most of them women and children, according to Palestinian medics.

Exclusive footage from the school, obtained by Al Jazeera, shows young Palestinians playing football in the building’s yard as dozens of people watch on. Then, a loud explosion is heard, sending people running for cover.

A Palestinian boy told Al Jazeera he lost several relatives in the attack. “We were sitting and a missile fell and destroyed everything,” he said, sobbing. “I lost my uncle, my cousins and my relatives.”

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The Israeli military has said it was looking into the report.

Elsewhere in Gaza, Israeli forces also bombed the central Bureij camp, killing at least 17 people, 14 of whom were children. Israeli forces also raided a house in central Deir el-Balah, killing three more people.

Hamas described the attack on the al-Awda school an “extension of the war of extermination against our people by the Zionist terrorist government” and called on people in Arab and Muslim nations to escalate protests against the war.

Josep Borrell, the European Union’s top diplomat, also condemned the attack, saying in a post on X, “For how long are innocent civilians going to bear the brunt of this conflict?”

He added, “It is imperative to immediately reach a ceasefire to bring respite to hundreds of stranded civilians, free all the hostages, deliver the needed humanitarian aid.”

Renewed push for ceasefire

The attacks come as CIA director William Burns and Israel’s Mossad chief David Barnea prepare to travel to Qatar on Wednesday, after Burns held talks with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo, seeking to push for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The renewed efforts come after Hamas made concessions last week, including dropping a key demand that Israel commit upfront to an end to the war before signing a ceasefire agreement. Instead, Hamas said it would push for the move in negotiations planned during an initial six-week ceasefire.

But Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the group, said on Monday that Israel’s escalating assault has threatened talks at a crucial time and could bring negotiations “back to square one”.

Haniyeh, who spoke with Qatari and Egyptian mediators, issued a statement warning “of the disastrous repercussions of what is happening in Gaza City, Rafah and other areas across the Gaza Strip”.

He stressed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and “his army bear full responsibility for the collapse of this negotiation path”.

Meanwhile, in northern Gaza City, residents said Israeli tanks were pushing into the Tal al-Hawa, Shujayea and Sabra neighbourhoods, shelling roads and buildings, and forcing them to flee their homes. This was followed by Israeli military orders to evacuate several districts in eastern and western Gaza City posted on social media, which included these neighbourhoods.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said that its crews received dozens of humanitarian distress calls from Gaza City but were unable to help due to the intensity of the bombing there.

The armed wings of Hamas and its ally, Islamic Jihad, said their fighters were batting Israeli forces with machineguns, mortar fire and antitank missiles, killing and wounding Israeli soldiers. Israel’s military has not commented on casualties but said its soldiers were engaged in close-quarters combat with Hamas fighters.

Videos on social media showed families packed onto donkey carts and in the backs of trucks piled with mattresses and other belongings making their way through Gaza City’s streets to flee areas under Israeli evacuation orders.

“Gaza City is being wiped out. This is what is happening. Israel is forcing us to leave homes under fire,” Um Tamer, a mother of seven, told Reuters via a chat app. She said it was the seventh time her family had fled their house in Gaza City in the north of the enclave and one of Israel’s first targets at the start of the war in October.

“We can’t take it any more, enough of death and humiliation. End the war now,” she said.

The UN Human Rights Office said it was “appalled” at the way civilians, many of whom have been displaced multiple times, have been ordered to head to areas where “military operations are ongoing and where civilians continue to be killed and injured”.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said that all of its medical clinics were out of service in Gaza City due to the Israeli evacuation orders that have driven thousands of people westward towards the Mediterranean and to the south.

Jagan Chapagain, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said on the social media platform X that “the closure of these vital medical facilities exacerbates an already dire healthcare system”.

“These clinics and medical points are often the only lifeline for many civilians.”

At least 38,243 people have been killed and 88,243 wounded in Israel’s war on Gaza since October. The death toll in Israel from the Hamas-led attacks on October 7 is estimated at 1,139, with dozens of people still held captive in Gaza.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies