Israel attacks UN school in Gaza on eve of 8-month anniversary of conflict

Israel says it has carried out an airstrike on a UN school in the central Gaza Strip. Health officials in the enclave say the attack killed 40 people, including 14 children and nine women.

The Israeli military announced the strike on Thursday, the eve of the eight-month anniversary of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The military said its fighter jets had "conducted a precise strike on a Hamas compound embedded inside" the UNRWA school in the area of Nuseirat. UNRWA is the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

The military said the attack had killed many of the Hamas fighters in the compound. It stressed that "a number of steps" had been taken to reduce the risk of harming uninvolved civilians during the strike.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini condemned the attack in a social media post, saying the school was sheltering 6,000 displaced people when it was hit.

He wrote that attacking, targeting or using UN buildings for military purposes represents "a blatant disregard" of international humanitarian law.

Health officials in Gaza say the overall death toll in the strip since the start of the conflict has climbed to 36,654.

They say the number of sick and wounded who need to be transported for treatment outside Gaza has reached 25,000. But the officials say none of them have been able to leave Gaza since the Israeli military seized the Rafah crossing between the enclave and Egypt last month.

The officials added that the situation has been exposing the lives of thousands to the avoidable risk of complications and death.

A US news website, Axios, reported on Wednesday that Qatar's prime minister and Egypt's director of intelligence had met senior Hamas officials in Doha earlier in the day to discuss a ceasefire and hostage release proposal offered by Israel. Qatar and Egypt have been mediating talks between Israel and Hamas.

But Hamas says it will not agree to the proposal unless Israel guarantees a permanent ceasefire and a full withdrawal of its troops from Gaza.

Some far-right ministers of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government are opposing the proposal. Netanyahu has not clarified his stance on it.