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Israeli airstrikes kill at least 24 in Gaza City, say Gaza officials

Israeli strike on a school in Al- Shati (beach) refugee camp, amid Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

CAIRO (Reuters) - Israeli forces killed at least 24 Palestinians in three separate airstrikes on Gaza City early on Tuesday, health officials said, while tanks deepened their incursion into the town of Rafah in the south of the enclave.

Two of the strikes hit two schools in Gaza City, killing at least 14 people, medics said. Another strike on a house in the Shati (Beach) camp, one of the Gaza Strip's eight historic refugee camps, killed 10 others.

The house in Shati belonged to the extended family of Hamas political chief, Ismail Haniyeh, who is based in Qatar, killing one of his sisters along with other relatives too, family members and medics said.

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Haniyeh, who leads Hamas' diplomacy and is the public face of the militant Islamist group that has been running Gaza, has lost many of his relatives in Israeli air strikes since Oct. 7, including three of his sons.

Israel's military said its forces had targeted militants overnight in Gaza City who had been involved in the planning of attacks on Israel. The militants included some involved in holding hostages captive and some who had taken part in Hamas' cross-border attack on Oct. 7.

The Israeli Air Force struck two structures "used by Hamas terrorists in Shati and Daraj Tuffah in the northern Gaza Strip. The terrorists operated inside school compounds that were used by Hamas as a shield for its terrorist activities", the military statement said.

Hamas denies using civilian facilities such as schools and hospitals for military purposes.

More than eight months into the fighting, international mediation backed by the United States has so far failed to bring a ceasefire agreement. Hamas says any agreement must bring an end to the war, while Israel says it will agree only temporary pauses in fighting until Hamas is eradicated.

SHORTAGES OF MEDICINE

Israel's ground and air campaign in Gaza was triggered when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

The Israeli offensive in retaliation has killed almost 37,600 people, according to Palestinian health authorities, and has left the tiny, densely populated Gaza Strip in ruins.

Gaza's health ministry said on Tuesday that hospitals and medical centres in the enclave were experiencing a severe shortage of medicines and medical supplies due to the continued Israeli offensive, Israel's control and closure of all crossings and its targeting of the health sector in Gaza.

In particularly short supply are medications needed for emergency, anaesthesia, intensive care and operations, the ministry said in a statement, while cancer patients were unable to travel to hospitals.

Since early May, fighting has focused on Rafah, on Gaza's southern edge abutting the border with Egypt, where around half of the enclave's 2.3 million people have been sheltering after fleeing other areas.

Residents said fierce fighting had taken place overnight in western areas of Rafah, where tanks have extended their incursion in recent days, blowing up several homes in the area.

(Reporting and writing by Nidal al-Mughrabi. Additional reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Gareth Jones)