Israel defends attack on school, continues offensive in Gaza Strip

Friday marks eight months since fighting broke out between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces are continuing to conduct intense operations there, even though they have been criticized for carrying out an attack on a UN school that left 40 people dead.

The military said on Thursday that it conducted an airstrike on the school in Nuseirat, which is located in central Gaza. The facility is run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, or UNRWA. Health officials in Gaza say the attack left 40 people dead, including 14 children. They also say that 74 other people were injured.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack. He said that UN premises are inviolable and must be protected by all parties at all times.

On Thursday, Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari defended the airstrike. He argued that Hamas fighters and others were operating inside three classrooms at the UN school.

Hagari said, "We conducted the strike once our intelligence and surveillance indicated that there were no women and children inside the Hamas compound, inside those classrooms." He also released photographs of some people he called terrorists. Hagari claimed that the individuals were killed in the attack.

Israel's forces continued to carry out fierce attacks in Nuseirat and its surrounding areas on Friday. A local media outlet says more than 10 people were killed.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, told people trying to mediate a ceasefire agreement that "Hamas will not surrender its guns or sign a proposal that asks for that."

Hamas says it will not agree to the latest proposal for a ceasefire and hostage release, unless Israel commits to a permanent ceasefire. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not clarified his position.