Israel's military said its shelling at the school _ the deadliest single episode since Israeli ground forces invaded Gaza on Saturday after a week of air bombardment _ was a response to mortar fire from within the school and said Hamas militants were using civilians as cover.
Two residents of the area who spoke with The Associated Press by telephone said they saw a small group of militants firing mortar rounds from a street near the school, where 350 people had gathered to get away from the shelling. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
Majed Hamdan, an AP photographer, rushed to the scene shortly after the attacks. At the hospital, he said, many children were among the dead.
"I saw women and men _ parents _ slapping their faces in grief, screaming, some of them collapsed to the floor. They knew their children were dead," he said. "In the morgue, most of the killed appeared to be children. In the hospital, there wasn't enough space for the wounded."
He said there appeared to be marks on the pavement of five separate explosions in area of the school.
and further down in the article:
An Israeli military statement said it received intelligence that the dead at the girls school included Hamas operatives, among them members of a rocket launching cell. It identified two of them as Imad Abu Askar and Hassan Abu Askar.
Two residents who spoke to an AP reporter by phone said the two brothers were known to be low-level Hamas militants. They said a group of militants _ one of them said four _ were firing mortar shells from near the school.
An Israeli shell targeted the men, but missed and they fled, the witnesses said, refusing to allow their names to be published because they feared for their safety. Then another three shells landed nearby, exploding among civilians, they said.
Palestinian militants have frequently fired from residential areas in the past.
Ging said the U.N. agency's staff work to prevent militants from entering the schools it has opened to shelter those at risk.
"Unfortunately tonight's incident is just another example of how Hamas operates," said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. "This is not the first time they have exploited a U.N. facility. This is not the first time that they have deliberately used innocent civilians as human shields."
Hamas has a strategy of deliberately endangering the people of Gaza, because every dead Palestinian is a win for Hamas in the public relations war. And the people of Gaza dare not complain for fear of reprisal from Hamas.
In this case the two of the Hamas fighters firing mortar shells are among the dead. The residents speaking on condition of anonymity say that these Hamas fighters fired the mortar near the school and then fled. So I guess they fled into the school and tried to blend in with the civilians at the school? Were they trying to attract the Israeli response and direct at the school?