Israel-Hamas war rages, UN shelter in Gaza hit by tank fire

Israeli attacks hit a building of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Khan Younis, Gaza, on January 24. Ramez Habboub/Anadolu/Getty Images

The number of people killed after a UN shelter was shelled in Khan Younis has gone up to 12 people, UNRWA Director Thomas White said in a statement Thursday.

75 others were injured, 15 of whom are in critical condition, White said. 

Part of the UNRWA training center, hosting thousands of people, was hit by two shells and caught fire, White said. 

UN staff managed to reach the location, west of Khan Younis, on Wednesday evening, after being denied access multiple times, White said.

“Persistent attacks on civilian sites in Khan Younis are utterly unacceptable and must stop immediately,” White said. 

Israel Defense Forces have “currently” ruled out that an aerial or artillery strike carried out by Israeli forces hit the UN facility, according to a statement from the IDF.

“After an examination of our operational systems, the IDF has currently ruled out that this incident is a result of an aerial or artillery strike by the IDF,” the statement says.

The IDF said a “thorough review of the operations of the forces in the vicinity is underway,” adding that it is “examining the possibility that the strike was a result of Hamas fire.”

Some background: In the past week, the IDF has intensified its offensive on Khan Younis, where medical facilities sheltering displaced civilians and health workers have been battered. The IDF maintains there are Hamas militants located in hospitals in the area.