A Hamas health official said more than 80 people were killed Saturday in twin strikes on a northern Gaza refugee camp, including a UN school used as a shelter for people displaced by the Israel-Hamas war.
Social media videos — verified by AFP — showed bodies covered in blood and dust on the floor of a building, where mattresses had been wedged under school tables in Jabalia, the Palestinian territory’s biggest refugee camp.
“At least 50 people” were killed in a dawn strike on the UN-run Al-Fakhura school in the camp, which has been converted into a shelter for displaced Palestinians, a health ministry official in Hamas-controlled Gaza told AFP.
The army’s relentless air and ground campaign has since killed 12,300 people, more than 5,000 of them children, according to the Hamas government which has ruled Gaza since 2007.
According to UN figures, some 1.6 million people have been displaced inside the Gaza Strip by six weeks of fighting.
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths denounced the “tragic news of the children, women and men killed”.
“Shelters are a place for safety,” he posted on X, formerly Twitter. “Schools are a place for learning.
“Civilians cannot and should not have to bear this any longer.”
A separate strike Saturday on another building in Jabalia camp killed 32 people from the same family, 19 of them children, the Hamas official said.
Israel has told Palestinians to move from north Gaza for their safety, but deadly air strikes continued to hit central and southern areas of the narrow coastal territory.
On Saturday, hundreds of people fled on foot after the director of Gaza’s main hospital said the Israeli army ordered the evacuation of the facility where some 2,000 people were trapped.
Columns of sick and injured — some of them amputees — were seen making their way out of Al-Shifa hospital towards the seafront without ambulances along with displaced people, doctors and nurses, as loud explosions were heard around the complex.
On the way, an AFP journalist saw at least 15 bodies, some in advanced stages of decomposition, along a road lined by heavily damaged shops and overturned vehicles.
The health ministry said 120 wounded, along with an unspecified number of premature babies, were still at Al-Shifa hospital.
Israel has been pressing military operations inside the hospital, searching for the Hamas operations centre it says lies under the sprawling complex — a charge Hamas denies.
In Gaza City, Israeli troops had called over loudspeakers to evacuate Al-Shifa “in the next hour”, an AFP journalist at the hospital reported.
They also called the hospital’s director, Mohammed Abu Salmiya, telling him to ensure “the evacuation of patients, wounded, the displaced and medical staff, and that they should move on foot towards the seafront”, he said.
According to Ahmed El Mokhallalati, a doctor at the hospital, “most of the medical staff and patients had left” but he was staying at Al-Shifa along with five other doctors.
Despite the evacuation order, “many patients cannot leave the hospital as they are in the ICU beds or the baby incubators,” Mokhallalati said on X.