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At least 50 killed as Israel attacks UN-run school in Gaza

Israeli air raids have killed at least 50 people at the al-Fakhoora School, run by the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), in Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.

At least 50 people were killed in the bombing, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said on Saturday, reports Al Jazeera.

Many hundreds of people are believed to have taken shelter there, fleeing the non-stop Israeli attacks. The attack is believed to have taken place in the early hours of the morning.

“Dead bodies are everywhere and medial teams are trying to evacuate the wounded,” said Al Jazeera correspondent Tareq Abou Azzoum, reporting from Gaza.

He said with the continuing fighting amid Israel’s ground offensive into northern Gaza, many Palestinians have been forced to flee to UN-run schools in the vicinity of the Indonesian Hospital for protection.

“People taking shelter at al-Fakhoora School in Jabalia refugee camp, many with medical issues, thought they could find shelter from the violence there. But the Israeli army seems to be sending a message: Flee to the south of the Gaza Strip,” he said.

‘Nowhere is safe in Gaza’

Tamara Alrifai, a spokesperson for UNRWA, told Al Jazeera she has seen the “devastating” footage coming out of Jabalia in the aftermath of the bombing, but has not been able to directly contact her colleagues on the ground.

“I’m still waiting from reports directly from my colleagues in Gaza but what we’re seeing is another one of these horrific incidents, where civilians, people who sought shelter in a protected UN building, are paying the price,” she said.

Alrifai said more than half of the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million population has been forced on an “exodus” south after an Israeli order to evacuate to make room for its ground operations in the north, something that is reminiscent of previous forced displacements.

“Many people who stayed in the north stayed in the UNRWA school because they thought that they would have a bit of safety there, but nowhere is safe in Gaza, not even our schools,” she said. “Unfortunately, people flee into our buildings with the blue flag looking for protection, but 70 of our buildings have been hit, so we, ourselves, are not protected.”

The ‘al-Shifa of schools’
The Jabalia refugee camp has been a target of air raids for weeks, as Israel claims it houses Palestinian fighters.

The deadly bombing campaign has been continuing despite condemnations by the UN and regional governments.

The Israeli army has also repeatedly hit schools and UN-run facilities. Its war on Gaza has killed more than 12,000 Palestinians so far, many of them children.

The al-Fakhoora School had also been previously hit by the Israeli army several times before the war. The school was a target for air raids in 2009, 2014 and earlier this month.

Al Jazeera’s Marwan Bishara said the school is like the “al-Shifa of schools” in Gaza as it has been repeatedly targeted by Israeli forces like the al-Shifa Hospital, which has been a main target since the start of the war and under direct siege and raid for days.

“There is nothing discriminate about the fact that a school that shelters thousands of people has been bombed from the air; that is meant to create damage, human loss, suffering and death,” he said.

“When you attack a school with such a concentration of people taking refuge in the school, you are sending a message that is more than ‘I’m going after Hamas fighters here and there.’ What it’s saying is, ‘I want people to be driven out, I want people to pay a price, I want people to die.’”