The Biden administration has issued a statement saying the US “deplores the deadly attack on a UN shelter in Gaza.” Earlier in the day Palestinian sources and UN officials said at least nine civilians were killed and another 75 injured after two tank rounds scored a direct hit on a United Nations training center in southern Gaza.
Hundreds of displaced Gazans were taking shelter there when the attack unfolded. The casualties were so high because the tank shelling set off a large blaze at the facility, UN officials said.
Khan Younis is experiencing some of the most intense ground fighting between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas since the start of the war.
“Thomas White, head of Gaza operations for the agency, known as UNRWA, said that the center in the southern city of Khan Younis had been unreachable for two days and that people were trapped,” the NY Times reports. “Khan Younis has been hit by heavy fighting as Israel says it is hunting down Hamas leaders, leaving hospitals and other facilities in the middle of a war zone.” At least two major hospitals are said to be besieged in the southern city.
Below is the full State Department statement in reaction to the bombing of the UN shelter:
“We deplore today’s attack on the UN’s Khan Yunis training center,” spokesman Vedant Patel said.
“You’ve heard me say it before, you’ve heard the Secretary say it before, but civilians must be protected and the protected nature of UN facilities must be respected. And humanitarian workers must be protected so that they can continue providing civilians with the life saving humanitarian assistance that they need.”
Arab news sources have claimed that the IDF is “shooting anything that moves.” Meanwhile a major Israel proposal for a 2-month pause in fighting is unlikely to materialize, also on reports that Hamas quickly rejected it while demanding that Israel’s ground forces pull out of the Strip altogether.
BREAKING| Israel’s military carries out more strikes targeting an UNRWA training centre in Khan Yunis in Gaza sheltering over 10,000 displaced Palestinians, which is already burning. pic.twitter.com/4KMLBLPZQu
— Palestine and MENA Info Center (@PALMENA_IC) January 24, 2024
Making matters worse for the situation in Khan Younis is that it has already been swarmed by internally displaced refugees who were forced out of their homes in the north. Some 500,000 Palestinians — nearly a quarter of Gaza’s population — are believed to no longer have a home to return to, according to UN officials.