Israel says it has hit a missile launch site in a “humanitarian zone” in Gaza.

The Israeli military said on Friday it had struck a missile launch site belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group that had been embedded in a shelter for displaced people in a “humanitarian zone” in Khan Younis, southern Gaza.

The claim could not be independently verified, but armed groups have used Gazans as human shields by storing weapons and firing rockets from civilian areas. Residents in the area could not immediately be reached.

The army said on Friday that before the attack “various measures were taken to mitigate harm to uninvolved civilians”.

Israel says it is careful to avoid killing civilians, even as it deals with Hamas's tactic of operating in civilian centers. Gaza authorities dispute that claim, and the death toll in the enclave has soared. Health authorities say more than 37,000 people have been killed in Israeli military operations. They made no distinction between combatants and civilians.

Dozens of Palestinians were killed in May after an Israeli airstrike hit a makeshift camp in southern Gaza. Israeli said he had destroyed a rocket launcher used by Hamas in an attack in central Israel a few hours earlier, which was not near the camp. A few hours later, Israel struck again, dropping two 250-pound bombs on the camp's temporary structures, sending shrapnel in every direction and starting a fire.

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