Dozens killed in Israel attack on Gaza school

Israel’s military has ramped up attacks on the Gaza Strip, killing tens of Palestinians, including those sheltering at a school, in one of the deadliest days the besieged 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 more than 50, 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,” he added.

Elsewhere in Gaza, Israel also bombed the central Bureij camp, killing at least 17 people, 14 of whom were children. Israeli soldiers 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.”

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, stated 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”.

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 1,200, with dozens of people still held captive in Gaza.

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