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An Israeli airstrike on a Gaza school killed 40 people

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An Israeli airstrike in central Gaza has killed 40 people who were hiding out inside a United Nations-run school, according to local authorities.
Israeli airstrike kills 40 at UNRWA school in Gaza.

An Israeli airstrike on a United Nations-run school in central Gaza has killed at least 40 people.

The school, located inside a refugee camp, was being used to house displaced people when it was attacked. Israel said it targeted a “Hamas compound” inside the school, and identified nine Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad members killed in the strike. Hamas denies this.

Meanwhile, this morning, the U.S. said it is waiting on Hamas’ response to a proposed ceasefire deal, accepted in principle by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Here’s what you need to know.

Background

On 7 October, Hamas launched an attack on Israel. According to data cited by the UN, roughly 1,200 people were killed.

Hamas, which Australia lists as a terrorist organisation, captured about 240 hostages. 125 remain captive.

Israel responded by declaring war and bombarding Gaza. According to data cited by the UN, more than 36,500 Palestinians have been killed since 7 October. Israel’s war in Gaza has caused a humanitarian crisis.

Israel’s strike

This week, Israeli forces carried out an airstrike on a school inside the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) runs the school, which provides healthcare, education, and funding to Palestinian refugees.

Officials from the Hamas-run health ministry said the strikes killed 40 people and injured dozens. UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said 6,000 displaced people were sheltering in the school at the time of the attack.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said the strike targeted a Hamas “command and control centre”.

It said nine Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad members it killed had been identified.

The Hamas-run Gaza media office denied the IDF’s claims, and accused Israel of committing a “horrific massacre”.

UN response

Lazarrini said: “Attacking, targeting or using UN buildings for military purposes” was a “blatant disregard of International Humanitarian law”.

A spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General also condemned the attacks, calling it “another horrific example of the price that civilians… who are just trying to survive… trying to find safety, are paying.”

U.S-led statement

The White House has released a joint statement from 17 countries calling for both Hamas and Israeli leaders to work towards a ceasefire agreement.

“We call on the leaders of Israel as well as Hamas to make whatever final compromises are necessary to close this deal,” it read.

The statement was published hours after the UNRWA school strike but did not mention it.

Ceasefire talks

Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden laid out a three-phase ceasefire plan he said was proposed by Israel.

The six-week plan would involve Israeli forces withdrawing from Gaza, the release of hostages, boosted aid deliveries to Gaza, and efforts to rebuild infrastructure destroyed in the conflict.

Discussions between Hamas and Israeli delegates continued earlier this week, overseen by the U.S, Egypt and Qatar. However, Hamas is expected to reject the proposal.

Israeli Government

Two senior ministers of the Israeli Government – Itamir Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich – threatened to quit if Israel agreed to the ceasefire deal outlined by Biden.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also needs the two far-right politicians’ support to maintain his coalition Government.

On social media, Ben Gvir vowed to “dissolve the government” if the deal goes ahead.

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