The Ministry of Health of Hamas reported on Saturday the death of more than 80 people in two Israeli airstrikes on a UN-administered refugee camp in Jabaliya, northern Gaza Strip, devastated by clashes between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement.
The first airstrike hit the Al Fakhura school, housing displaced individuals, at dawn, leaving at least 50 dead, according to a ministry official. Images on social media show bodies covered in blood or dust on the floors of the building where mattresses were placed under the desks.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) expressed outrage at the “horrific” attack, urging schools to cease being targets of military operations. In the second airstrike on a house in the same refugee camp, 32 members of the same family, including 19 children, were killed, according to the Hamas health ministry, which released a list of names.
During the night, another Israeli airstrike hit Jan Yunis, killing at least 26 people, according to the director of Nasser Hospital in the southern Gaza Strip city. Amidst the bombardments, Israel, pledging to “annihilate” Hamas, has been conducting ground operations in Gaza since October 27, targeting the 362 km² territory with approximately 2.4 million inhabitants.
The ground operations focus on the northern part of the territory, turning Gaza City into ruins and targeting hospitals. The Israeli military accuses Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007, of using hospitals as bases and using the sick as “human shields.” The territory has been under siege by Israel since October 9, cutting off the supply of food, water, electricity, and medicine that typically pass through Rafah, on the border with Egypt, in southern Gaza.
According to Hamas, 24 of Gaza’s 35 hospitals have ceased functioning. The UN estimates that over two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.4 million inhabitants have been displaced by the war, with most fleeing south with minimal belongings, facing the imminent winter cold. With winter approaching rapidly and unsafe and overcrowded shelters, along with a lack of potable water, civilians in Gaza face the immediate possibility of starvation, warned the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) on Thursday.
At the request of the United States, Israel authorized the daily entry of two tanker trucks with fuel through Rafah on Friday. According to the Palestinian side of the border crossing, these initial 17,000 liters will allow the reactivation of hospital generators and telecommunication networks. Israel had previously refused to allow the passage of fuel, claiming it could be used in Hamas’s military activities.
These deliveries represent only a small portion of the quantities of fuel—50 trucks—that entered Gaza daily before the war, according to UNRWA. Tensions are also high in the West Bank, a territory occupied by Israel since 1967, where about 200 Palestinians have been killed by settlers and Israeli soldiers since October 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
The Israeli war cabinet, led by conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, faces strong external pressure to alleviate the suffering of Gaza civilians. For the first time since the war began, the UN Security Council on Wednesday called for “humanitarian pauses” in a resolution approved despite the abstentions of the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom.
Netanyahu also faces pressure from the families of those kidnapped by Hamas, demanding an agreement to secure their release. A march of thousands of people, which started on Tuesday in Tel Aviv, arrived in Jerusalem on Saturday with the slogan “Bring them home now,” heading towards Netanyahu’s office.