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Group of displaced Palestinians move into heavily damaged school in Gaza

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike on buildings near the separating wall between Egypt and Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, May 7, 2024.   -  
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Ramez Habboub/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.


A group of displaced Palestinians have moved into a school run by a U.N. agency that was heavily damaged during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and fixed some of the classrooms where they now live.

The school in the southern city of Khan Younis used to be run by the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees known as UNRWA was damaged by Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

The families, who were displaced from the southern city of Rafah along the border with Egypt cleaned some of the class rooms, removed debris and fixed some of the damage then settled in.

UNRWA said 360,000 Palestinians have fled the city of Rafah over the past week, out of 1.3 million who were sheltering there before the operation began.

Most had already fled fighting elsewhere during the seven-month war between Israel and Hamas.

Israel has portrayed Rafah as the last stronghold of the militant group, brushing off warnings from the United States and other allies that any major operation there would be catastrophic for civilians.

Hamas has meanwhile regrouped and is battling Israeli forces in parts of Gaza that Israel bombarded and invaded earlier in the war.

Since Israeli troops captured a border crossing with Egypt in Rafah, the flow of aid form there has stopped.

Fighting in Rafah city has made it impossible for aid groups to access the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel, though Israel says it is allowing supply trucks to enter from its side.

For the past week, the Israeli military has intensified bombardment and other operations in Rafah while ordering the population to evacuate from parts of the city.

Israel insists it is a limited operation focused on rooting out tunnels and other militant infrastructure along the border with Egypt.

The war began when Hamas and other militants stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking another 250 hostage.

Militants still hold about 100 captives and the remains of more than 30 after most of the rest were released during a cease-fire last year.

Israel’s offensive has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which doesn’t distinguish between civilians and combatants in its figures. Israel says it has killed over 13,000 militants, without providing evidence

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