JERUSALEM (JTA) — Dozens of Palestinian civilians were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a U.N. school in northern Gaza, according to Palestinian reports.
A United Nations Relief and Works Agency school in Jabalya was hit by the Israeli Air Force on Tuesday afternoon, the reports said. The civilians had taken shelter there after being forced to leave their homes.
The United Nations said 30 Palestinians were killed; Palestinian reports say 40 civilians were killed.
A second school in Gaza was also hit on Tuesday, according to news reports.
An initial inquiry by Israeli troops operating in the area of the Jabalya school indicated that mortar shells were fired at Israeli troops from within the school and that the forces returned fire, according to a statement released by the Israel Defense Forces spokesman’s office.
"Israel is appalled that the grounds of a United Nations school have been hijacked to suit the purposes of terrorist groups acting against a United Nations member state and is therefore weighing the possibility of submitting an official complaint to the office of the Secretary-General in this matter," said David Saranga, Israel’s consul for public affairs in New York. "Israel deeply regrets the loss of civilian lives in this incident."
The Air Force also struck an apartment building, killing 13, including nine members of one family, according to reports.