Tuesday, July 23, 2024

A game of football, a boom, then scattered bodies: video shows moment of Israeli strike on Gaza school

Must read

The scene shows a moment of respite and relative calm in Gaza: a crowd of people watching a football match in a school playground. A player fails to control a long pass from a teammate. The opposing goalkeeper gathers the ball and looks to launch it back up the pitch.

But just after he throws the ball, a deafening boom sends everyone present running for cover, including the person filming. “A strike! A strike!” someone screams.

The footage, broadcast by Al Jazeera, showed the moment of an Israeli airstrike next to the gate of al-Awda school in Abasan al-Kabira, east of the city of Khan Younis in Gaza, on Tuesday. As the person who was filming the match flees, they pass dead bodies and severely injured people among the debris.

The death toll from the strike – which hit an area were hundreds of displaced people from villages east of Khan Younis had set up makeshift camps – rose to 31 on Wednesday, officials at the nearby Nasser hospital said. Dozens more were injured.

Witnesses said the area was bustling with people and market traders when the strike occurred.

“We were sitting at the entrance of the school … suddenly and without warning, rockets were fired,” Mohammed Sukkar, a witness, told Agence France-Presse.

A Palestinian boy who lost several relatives told Al Jazeera: “A missile fell and destroyed everything. I lost my uncle, my cousins and my relatives.”

People recounted seeing individuals with severed limbs and body parts scattered around.

“I witnessed … people thrown around and body parts scattered, blood,” a young woman called Ghazzal Nasser told Reuters. Before the attack “everything was normal”, she added. “People were playing, others were buying and selling [food and drinks]. There was no sound of planes or anything.”

Ayman Al-Dahma, 21, said the number of casualties was “unimaginable”.

“They said it was a safe place,” he told the BBC, “that there were water and food, there were schools and everything … Suddenly a rocket comes down on you and all the people around you.”

Asmaa Qudeih, a witness who lost some relatives in the attack, told Reuters: “Bodies flew in the wind, body parts flew, I don’t know how to describe it.”

Videos from Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, where the casualties were taken, showed dozens of dead and seriously injured people, including children, strewn across the floor of a room.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it was reviewing reports that civilians were harmed and that the incident was under investigation.

“A warplane, using precision munitions, attacked a terrorist from the military wing of Hamas who participated in the hideous massacre on 7 October,” the IDF said in a statement.

In a statement on X, the German foreign ministry said: “People seeking shelter in schools getting killed is unacceptable. The repeated attacks on schools by the Israeli army must stop and an investigation must come quickly.”

Wednesday’s attack was the fourth on or near schools sheltering displaced Palestinians in four days.

Israel said the strikes were aimed at targeting militants hiding in the buildings.

“Schools have gone from safe places of education and hope for children to overcrowded shelters and often ending up a place of death and misery,” the head of refugee agency Unrwa, Philippe Lazzarini, wrote on X. Lazzarini said two-thirds of Unrwa’s schools in Gaza had been targeted, and some had been “bombed out”, since the start of the war.

“The blatant disregard of international humanitarian law cannot become the new normal,” he added.

Latest article