The UN has retracted a claim that an Israeli strike, which killed more than 40 people in northern Gaza last month, hit a school run by a UN agency.

'The humanitarian coordinator would like to clarify that the shelling, and all of the fatalities, took place outside rather than inside the school,' said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

It stressed that its initial report of the 6 January incident correctly stated that Israeli shells hit outside the school run by UNRWA, but admitted that it later referred to 'the shelling of the UNRWA school in Jabaliya.'

The Israeli military initially said its forces had responded to hostile fire from within the UN school but later retracted that statement.

The attack sparked widespread outrage in the midst of Israel's deadly offensive in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees has revealed that Hamas has seized hundreds of food parcels and thousands of blankets destined for Gaza civilians.

'At 14:30 on 3 February, over 3,500 blankets and 406 food parcels were confiscated from a distribution store at Beach Camp in Gaza by police personnel,' it said in a statement.

'This took place after UNRWA staff had earlier refused to hand over the aid supplies to the Hamas-run ministry of social affairs.

'The police subsequently broke into the warehouse and seized the aid by force.'

All the supplies were due to be distributed to 500 families in the area.

The Hamas government's social affairs minister Ahmed al-Kurd implicitly confirmed the aid was seized, arguing that it should be distributed to a wider section of the Gaza population and not only those who hold refugee status.

'The Hamas government is the main party responsible for the distribution and supervision of this aid in an equitable manner,' he said.

Virtually all aid delivered to Gaza comes from UN and other humanitarian agencies.