Israel prepared on Sunday to expand its offensive against Hamas militants to southern Gaza after air strikes killed dozens of Palestinians, including civilians reported to be sheltering at two schools.
After earlier in the week dropping leaflets, Israel on Saturday again warned civilians in parts of southern Gaza to relocate as it girds for an onslaught in that part of the small coastal enclave, after subduing the north.
Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini of UNRWA, the U.N. aid organization for Palestinian refugees, said on social media platform X that Israel bombarded two agency schools in the north. More than 4,000 civilians were sheltered at one of them, he said.
“Dozens reported killed including children,” he said. “Second time in less than 24 hours schools are not spared. ENOUGH, these horrors must stop.”
A spokesperson for Gaza’s Hamas authorities said 200 people had been killed or injured at the school. Israel’s military did not comment.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whose government controls parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, on Saturday said, “Hundreds of forcibly displaced people were killed” at the two schools in Gaza.
Israel vowed to destroy Hamas after the militant group’s Oct. 7 rampage into Israel in which its fighters killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.
As the conflict entered its seventh week, authorities in Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip raised their death toll to 12,300, including 5,000 children.
Abbas on Saturday made an appeal to U.S. President Joe Biden to intervene to stop the Israeli operation in Gaza.
In an address aired by Palestine TV, Abbas said “hundreds of forcibly displaced people were killed” at the two schools in Gaza and demanded “that you and world leaders take responsibility to stop this aggression and genocide against our people.”
Biden, who opposes a ceasefire, was looking to the end of the conflict, saying in a Washington Post opinion article that the Palestinian Authority should ultimately govern both Gaza and the West Bank.
Asked about Biden’s proposal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters in Tel Aviv the Palestinian Authority in its current form was not capable of being responsible for Gaza. Israel has not disclosed a strategy for Gaza after the war.