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Explosions, gunfire in Gaza fighting
04:27 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

NEW: U.N. Security Council will meet at midnight Sunday to discuss Middle East

CNN team visits school, finds signs of bloodshed

1,032 Palestinians have been killed, nearly three-quarters are civilians, officials say

Israel denies civilians killed by IDF mortar in last week's battle near U.N. shelter

Gaza City CNN  — 

The Israeli military denied Sunday that it was responsible for anyone killed last week when a mortar hit the courtyard of a U.N. school that was shelter to many Gaza residents.

Officials from the United Nations and the Palestinian government said 16 people were killed and hundreds wounded on Thursday when the school in northern Gaza was struck.

“A single errant Israeli mortar landed in the courtyard in the school,” Israel Defense Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said. “The footage we have shows the courtyard was empty.”

Lerner said there was fierce fighting between the IDF and Hamas on Thursday. The militants fired anti-tank missiles from the immediate vicinity of the school and the IDF fired several mortars in that direction.

“We reject the claim that people were killed by the IDF mortar on the school premises,” he said, adding there could have been people who were wounded by shrapnel.

The U.N. Relief and Workers Agency called for a full investigation of the school shelling, but didn’t say by whom. Agency spokesman Chris Gunness said the agency wanted to investigate the incident itself but could not because of “firing at the school.”

“We had notified the Israeli military that this school was being used by UNRWA as a shelter for hundreds of people and we notified the Israeli military that there were people there to evacuate and UNRWA never got the approval to evacuate,” Gunness said.

CNN team saw evidence of courtyard casualties

A CNN team that visited the shelter several hours after the mortar attack saw evidence that people were badly wounded, if not killed, at the courtyard.

The team saw blood and strewn possessions concentrated close to the edge of the courtyard along the wall of the building, the area that would have been shady around 3 p.m. when the school was hit.

At other U.N. shelters visited in days before this incident, CNN reporters saw displaced persons sitting at the edges of courtyards to take advantage of the shade.

The IDF released a high-altitude aerial video of the round hitting the school, but it did not have high resolution and it is impossible to tell if anybody was sitting on the courtyard edge. CNN has asked the IDF for a higher resolution version of the video, as well as a version that includes a time stamp.

The team observed a shrapnel field ranging from a few inches above the ground to the top of the main three-story school building, with the blast field extending down the corridor of the main school building.