Northern Gaza witnessed a harrowing event on Saturday when a blast devastated a United Nations school, causing numerous fatalities, including women and children. The school, under the management of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), served as a haven for displaced Palestinians.
In a disturbing revelation, video footage from the scene displayed the grim aftermath, with bloodied bodies strewn across the rooms on two floors of the building. This incident marks the second attack on a UNRWA-run school within 24 hours, intensifying concerns about the safety of such humanitarian refuges.
However, the agency has yet to provide detailed information on the cause of the explosion or identify those responsible.
Escalating Regional Tensions
Amidst this backdrop of unrest, several other significant developments have emerged in the region:
Hostage Crisis Continues
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has confirmed the ongoing impasse in hostage negotiations.
According to Netanyahu, reports of Israel considering a proposal to release at least 50 hostages captured by Hamas during attacks on October 7 are unfounded. The Israel Defense Forces estimate that approximately 237 hostages remain captive in Gaza.
Biden's Stance on Ceasefire
In a noteworthy development, US President Joe Biden rejected calls for a ceasefire in Gaza. In his op-ed published Saturday, Biden argued that a ceasefire would only provide Hamas an opportunity to regroup and continue its assaults.
He emphasized the need for Israel to adhere to humanitarian law and reduce civilian casualties. Additionally, Biden condemned extremist violence in the West Bank and announced the US's readiness to impose visa bans on those responsible.
Evacuations and Aid
In a coordinated effort, 674 foreign nationals and nine injured Palestinians, along with their 11 companions, were evacuated from Gaza to Egypt via the Rafah crossing. Concurrently, an influx of aid entered Gaza, including 50 trucks bearing essential supplies like 127,000 liters of fuel for UN relief operations.
This delivery is part of Israel's contentious domestic commitment to daily fuel shipments to Gaza.
Al-Shifa Hospital Evacuation
A controversial situation unfolded at Al-Shifa Hospital, where several doctors reported being ordered to evacuate by the Israel Defense Forces - a claim that the IDF denies.
Dr. Munir Al-Bursh indicated that the hospital director was instructed to evacuate the facility and signal the departure with white flags. Despite this, six doctors remained behind to care for 120 immobile patients. The UN has demanded access to the hospital to investigate allegations of Hamas using it for military purposes, a claim both Hamas and Gaza medical officials refute.