GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli tank shells hit a compound housing a U.N. school in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens who were seeking shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside, Palestinian officials said, as Israel pressed forward with its 17-day war against the territory's Hamas rulers.
Pools of blood stained the school courtyard in the northern town of Beit Hanoun, amid scattered books and belongings. There was a large scorch mark in the courtyard marking the place where one of the tank shells hit. Dozens of people, including children were wheeled into a nearby hospital as sirens wailed.
The strike occurred during a day of heavy fighting throughout the coastal territory. Israel says the war is meant to halt rocket fire from Palestinian militants in Gaza and destroy a sophisticated network of cross-border tunnels. International efforts to bring about a truce appeared elusive, with the violence continuing and Hamas reiterating its demand for a cease-fire that a crippling Egyptian and Israeli blockade on Gaza be lifted.
Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said the dead and injured in the school compound were among hundreds of people seeking shelter from heavy fighting in the area.
It was the fourth time a U.N. facility has been hit in fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, since the Israeli operation began July 8. The Palestinian refugee agency has said it has found militant rockets inside two vacant schools but the target of Thursday's strike was not immediately clear.
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