United Nations officials said a building hit in Khan Younis that was being used as a shelter by about 800 people had been “clearly marked” as one of their facilities. Israel denied responsibility.
Israeli forces pushed deeper into southern Gaza’s largest city on Wednesday, surrounding two major hospitals where thousands of people were seeking safety as a strike on a United Nations shelter killed at least nine people, according to U.N. officials and local health officials.
The Israeli military said it had “currently ruled out” that its aerial or artillery fire had been responsible for the strike on the shelter in Khan Younis, where the U.N. was housing about 800 people. In addition to the nine dead, 75 other people were injured, according to Thomas White, who helps oversee U.N. aid operations in Gaza.
U.N. officials did not directly blame Israel, but said the shelter, in a vocational training center, had been hit by two tank rounds. Israel is the only combatant in Gaza with tanks.
Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the U.N. Palestinian aid agency, said that the shelter was “clearly marked” as a U.N. facility and that its coordinates had been shared with the Israeli authorities. “Once again a blatant disregard of basic rules of war,” Mr. Lazzarini wrote on social media.
At a news conference in Washington, Vedant Patel, a State Department spokesman, called the strike “incredibly concerning” and added: “Civilians must be protected, and the protected nature of U.N. facilities must be respected.” He declined to say whether U.S. officials had spoken to the Israelis about the shelter strike.
The Israeli military said that it was conducting a review of its operations in the area of the shelter.