Gaza toll hits 798 as 15 killed at UN shelter
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Smoke billows from buildings following an Israeli air strike in Gaza”>
Fifteen people were killed Thursday when Israeli fire hit a UN shelter in Gaza, as the Palestinian toll in the 17-day conflict rose to 798, medics said.
Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said at least 15 people had been killed and 200 wounded by Israeli shelling of a school run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in the northern town of Beit Hanun, where hundreds of civilians had sought refuge from the violence.
He gave no immediate details of those killed, but an AFP correspondent reported that a mother and her one-year-old infant were among the dead brought into a nearby mortary.
UN chief Ban Ki-Moon said: “Many have been killed — including women and children, as well as UN staff.”
A later air strike between the southern cities of Rafah and Khan Yunis killed seven people, the “majority of them children” from three different families, Qudra said.
He gave the names and ages of three of the children — Mahmud Abedin, 12, Nabeel al-Astal, 12, and Ashraf al-Najjar, 13 — but no further details.
A nighttime shelling near a hospital east of Gaza City resulted in the death of a sick child and 30 others wounded, and an air strike in Khan Yunis killed four people, Qudra said.
The deaths raised Thursday’s toll in Gaza to 98, according to Qudra’s figures, with 798 killed in total and more than 5,000 wounded.
Those numbers do not include more than a dozen Palestinian militants killed after infiltrating southern Israel since the conflict began on July 8.
Among those killed on Thursday were seven who died in air strikes and tank fire in and around Khuzaa near Khan Yunis in southern Gaza.
Five people from the Abu Daqqa family were killed along with two from the Najjar family, Qudra told AFP.
Areas east of Khan Yunis near the Israeli border have come under heavy bombardment in recent days, with emergency services trying to coordinate with the Red Cross to gain access to evacuate civilians.
“We have been receiving dozens of appeals from residents of Khuzaa, Abasan and Bani Suheila in Khan Yunis asking us to evacuate them, and saying there were a lot of people killed and injured underneath the rubble of their houses,” Qudra said.
So far, 32 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the conflict, along with two Israeli civilians and one Thai farm worker.
The army’s losses are its heaviest since a 2006 war with Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.