Israeli tank shells hit a compound housing a UN school in the northern Gaza Strip yesterday, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens who were seeking shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside.
Pools of blood soiled the school courtyard, amid scattered books and belongings. There was a large scorch mark in the courtyard marking the place where one of the tank shells hit.
The strike occurred during a day of heavy fighting throughout the coastal territory as Israel pressed ahead with its operation to halt rocket fire from Gaza and destroy a sophisticated network of cross-border tunnels.
Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said the dead and injured in the school compound were among hundreds of people seeking shelter from heavy fighting in the area.
It was the fourth time a UN facility has been hit in fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since the Israeli operation began on July 8.
UNRWA, the Palestinian refugee agency, has said it has found militant rockets inside two vacant schools.
The strike came on a day of heavy fighting throughout the Gaza Strip as Hamas militants stuck to their demand for the lifting of an Israeli and Egyptian blockade amid international efforts to broker a ceasefire.
Six members of the same family and an 18-month-old infant boy were killed when an Israeli airstrike hit the Jebaliya refugee camp in the early morning hours, according to Gaza police and health officials. Twenty others were injured in the strike, they said, and rescuers were digging through the rubble of flattened homes, looking for survivors.
An airstrike on a home in the southern Gaza town of Abassan killed five members of another family, said Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra. Abassan is near Khan Younis, in an area that saw intense fighting on Wednesday.