Gaza massacre: Israel bombs Khan Younis school as children played football

Gaza massacre: Israel bombs Khan Younis school as children played football
The strikes targeted the Al-Awdah school-turned-shelter in Abasan, Khan Younis, as displaced Palestinians gathered to watch children play football.
3 min read
10 July, 2024
The massacre is the latest in Israel's intensified attacks on the enclave in recent days [Getty/file photo]

At least 29 Palestinians were killed in another deadly strike by the Israeli army on Tuesday as a school-turned-shelter for the displaced in Abasan, east of Khan Younis, was targeted.

Israel has intensified its military offensive in Gaza amid a wave of evacuation orders, triggering fears of a sharp escalation in Israel's already devastating death toll on the war-hit territory. 

The Abasan attack was described as a "massacre against the displaced" by the Palestinian health ministry with most of those killed being women and children, while 53 Palestinians were wounded in the attack.

Hamas called the massacre an "extension of the war of extermination against our people by the Zionist terrorist government" and urged "people in Arab and Muslim nations to escalate protests against the war".

Videos and images shared online showed Palestinians, including children, sheltering at Al-Awdah school fleeing in terror as bombs rained down with significant destruction to the facility and bodies scattered everywhere.

One clip, exclusively obtained by Al Jazeera, showed a crowd watching young boys playing football in the school's yard moments before loud explosions were heard, prompting people to run for cover.

The targeted area was significantly crowded, witnesses told the BBC, with as many as 3,000 people gathered in what became a bomb site.

Footage later showed Palestinian victims sprawled on the floor of Khan Younis’ Nasser Hospital, as relatives scrambled to identify victims and seek medical help for their loved ones.

Josep Borrell, the Vice-President of the EU Commission, condemned the massacre, calling it a "violation of international law" and urged those responsible to "be held accountable".

"For how long are innocent civilians going to beat the brunt of this conflict?".

Philippe Lazzarini, the Commissioner-General of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, also denounced the incident, in a statement on X.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army said it was "reviewing" reports on the Al-Awdah school attack, and said the incident "was under investigation".

The Al-Awdah school is the latest educational facility sheltering Palestinians to be targeted by the Israeli military in Gaza in recent days.

On Saturday, the Israeli army targeted a UN-run school in Nuseirat, central Gaza, where around 7,000 Palestinians were sheltering - mostly children, women and the elderly - killing at least 16 people.

The Israeli army also carried out strikes on two separate schools in Gaza City in the past week, including a second one in the Nuseirat camp.

Much of Khan Younis was destroyed in the early stages of the war, though many residents were forced to return to the city in May as Israel launched a military assault on Rafah, prompting already-displaced Palestinians to flee again.

The strike on Al-Awdah also came as international mediators are expected in Qatar to discuss a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas.

CIA director William Burns and Mossad chief David Barnea will be present in Doha on Wednesday after he held meetings with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo.

The renewed efforts come after Hamas made concessions last week, although Ismail Haniyeh, the group’s political chief, said on Monday that the "catastrophic consequences" of the latest battles on the ground in Gaza could "reset the negotiation process to square one".

Israel's deadly war in Gaza - ongoing for over nine months -  has killed at least 38,243 as of Tuesday, with many describing Israel's atrocities as "genocide".