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Tank Shelling Kills Nine at UN Shelter in South Gaza: UN Official

Tank shelling on a UN shelter on Wednesday killed nine people in Gaza’s main southern city of Khan Yunis, said the Gaza head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

“Two tank rounds hit [a] building that shelters 800 people – reports now 9 dead and 75 injured,” Thomas White, UNRWA’s Gaza director, said on X, formerly Twitter.

The head of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, condemned the attack and said the number of dead was likely to rise.

“Once again a blatant disregard of basic rules of war,” Lazzarini said on X.

He added that the compound had been clearly marked as a UN facility and its coordinates shared with Israeli authorities, without specifying responsibility for the shelling.

When asked about the incident, the Israeli army told AFP it had “ruled out that this incident is a result of an aerial or artillery strike by the IDF (army).”

“A thorough review of the operations of the forces in the vicinity is underway,” the army said, adding it was examining the possibility that the strike was a “result of Hamas fire.”

Teams from UNRWA and the World Health Organization were trying to reach the shelter, which has been blocked for two days, White said.

Earlier he said the UNRWA training center had been hit, with “buildings ablaze and mass casualties.”

UN officials gave different figures of the number of people sheltering at the facility, with Lazzarini saying 30,000 displaced people had been there.

UN shelter in Gaza
Displaced people in a UN shelter in Gaza. Photo: AFP

Footage aired on Al Jazeera Arabic showed fire raging and thick plumes of smoke rising out of the building.

The United States said it “deplored” the incident.

Lazzarini said on Tuesday the same shelter had been hit during military operations.

At least six displaced people were killed and “many more injured” in the fighting, he said.

Fighting Around Hospitals

Intense fighting was also reported Wednesday close to hospitals in Khan Yunis.

The Hamas government media office said “dozens of Israeli tanks are surrounding Nasser hospital from all sides, except for a corridor for displaced people to leave.”

The Israeli army said Tuesday it had “encircled” Khan Yunis, which has become the epicenter of recent fighting.

The Gaza war began with Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attacks, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,140 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also seized 250 hostages, and Israel says around 132 remain in Gaza. That number includes the bodies of at least 28 dead hostages, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

In response, Israel has carried out a relentless military offensive that has killed at least 25,700 people in Gaza, about 70 percent of them women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

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