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Dozens killed in Israeli airstrike on Gaza school, Hamas-run media office says

Israel targeted a Gaza school on Thursday that it said contained a Hamas compound, killing fighters involved in the Oct. 7 attack that sparked the eight-month war, but Gaza media said the strike killed at least 27 people seeking shelter.

Israeli military says the school contained a Hamas compound

A blue and white concrete building is heavily damaged. People walk in the courtyard strewn with debris

Israel targeted a Gaza school on Thursday that it said contained a Hamas compound, killing fighters involved in the Oct. 7 attack that sparked the eight-month war, but Gaza media said the strike killed at least 27 people seeking shelter.

Ismail Al-Thawabta, the director of the Hamas-run government media office, rejected Israel's claims that the UN school in Nuseirat, in central Gaza, had hidden a Hamas command post.

"The occupation uses lying to the public opinion through false fabricated stories to justify the brutal crime it conducted against dozens of displaced people," Thawabta told Reuters.

Israel's military said that before the strike by Israeli fighter jets, the military took steps to reduce the risk of harm to civilians.

The attack happened after Israel announced a new military campaign in central Gaza as it battles a group of fighters relying on hit-and-run insurgency tactics. Israel has said there will be no halt to fighting during ceasefire talks.

Blow to ceasefire proposal

In an apparent blow to a truce proposal touted last week by U.S. President Joe Biden, the leader of Hamas on Wednesday said the group would demand a permanent end to the war in Gaza and Israeli withdrawal as part of a ceasefire plan.

The remarks by Ismail Haniyeh appeared to deliver the Palestinian militant group's reply to the proposal that Biden unveiled last week. Washington had said it was waiting to hear an answer from Hamas to what Biden described as an Israeli initiative.

"The movement and factions of the resistance will deal seriously and positively with any agreement that is based on a comprehensive ending of the aggression and the complete withdrawal and prisoners swap," Haniyeh said.

A man comforts a young woman, who is crying.

Asked whether Haniyeh's remarks amounted to the group's reply to Biden, a senior Hamas official replied to a text message from Reuters with a "thumbs up" emoji.

Since a brief week-long truce in November, all attempts to arrange a ceasefire have failed, with Hamas insisting on its demand for a permanent end to the conflict, while Israel says it is prepared to discuss only temporary pauses until the militant group is defeated.

CIA chief in Middle East

Washington is still pressing hard to reach an agreement. CIA director William Burns met senior officials from mediators Qatar and Egypt on Wednesday in Doha to discuss the ceasefire proposal.

Biden has repeatedly declared that ceasefires were close over the past several months, only for no truce to materialize.

Last week's announcement came with far greater fanfare from the White House, and at a time when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under mounting domestic political pressure to chart a path to end the eight-month-old war and negotiate the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

WATCH | Palestinians flee Rafah:

Palestinians seek safety as Rafah sees more shelling

9 days ago

Duration 0:32

Palestinians who sought safety in the southern Gaza city of Rafah were on the move again on Tuesday, as they faced more Israeli strikes and dire humanitarian conditions.

Hamas-led militants abducted some 250 people when they stormed over the border into Israel on Oct. 7 last year, killing around 1,200 people, according to Israeli government tallies. About 120 people remain unaccounted for.

Over 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's air and land war since then in Gaza, according to health officials there, and much of the densely populated enclave lies in ruins.

Hamas has seen about half its forces wiped out in eight months of fighting and is relying on insurgent tactics to frustrate Israel's attempts to take control of Gaza, U.S. and Israeli officials told Reuters.

A group of women and some children sit amid rubble, crying.

Hamas has been reduced to 9,000 to 12,000 fighters, according to three senior U.S. officials familiar with battlefield developments, down from American estimates of 20,000-25,000 before the conflict. Israel says it has lost almost 300 troops in the Gaza campaign.

Meanwhile, a conflict between Israel and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah is threatening to escalate, with the U.S. State Department warning against a full-blown war.

Israeli ministers threaten to resign

Although Biden described the ceasefire proposal as an Israeli offer, Israel's government has been lukewarm in public. A top Netanyahu aide confirmed on Sunday that Israel had made the proposal even though it was "not a good deal."

Far-right members of Netanyahu's government have pledged to quit if he agrees to a peace deal that leaves Hamas in place, a move that could force a new election and end the political career of Israel's longest-serving leader.

WATCH | Biden makes pitch for ceasefire:

Biden backs Israel-Hamas ceasefire plan

5 days ago

Duration 2:08

U.S. President Joe Biden is backing an apparent Israeli proposal that could end its war with Hamas. The three-phase plan also calls for the release of all hostages, and rebuilding Gaza.

Centrist opponents who joined Netanyahu's war cabinet in a show of unity at the outset of the conflict have also threatened to quit, saying his government has no plan.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said there would be no let-up in Israel's offensive while negotiations over the ceasefire proposal were under way.

"Any negotiations with Hamas would be conducted only under fire," Gallant said in remarks carried by Israeli media after he flew aboard a warplane to inspect the Gaza front.

The armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad said they had fought gun battles with Israeli forces on Wednesday in areas throughout the enclave and fired anti-tank rockets and shells.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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