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Sunday, 3 August 2014

UN voices outrage over Gaza school strike - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

UN voices outrage over Gaza school strike - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

UN voices outrage over Gaza school strike

Israel confirms firing on a target near UNRWA school, which left at least 10 people dead.

Last updated: 03 Aug 2014 18:43

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The UN expressed outrage after another deadly Israeli
strike on one of its schools in the southern city of Rafah killed at
least 10 people, in the third such incident within 10 days.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned Sunday's shelling, calling it "a moral outrage and a criminal act."

"This madness must stop," he said.

Israel's military confirmed it fired on a target near the UN school drawing a chorus of condemnation.

"The IDF (army) targeted three PIJ (Islamic Jihad) terrorists on
board a motorcycle in the vicinity of an UNRWA school in Rafah," an army
statement said on Sunday, referring to the UN agency for Palestinian

"The IDF is reviewing the consequences of this strike" near the school where around 3,000 Palestinians were sheltering, it said.

The strike on the school came as Palestinian factions gathered for
truce talks with Egypt in Cairo and world powers voiced increasingly
urgent calls for the warring sides to lay down their weapons.

"The bloodshed needs to stop," said a statement signed by the
European Union and the European Commission presidents on behalf of the
bloc's 28 member states.

"We deplore the terrible loss of lives, including innocent women and
children," it said, condemning the "intolerable violence" being suffered
by Gaza residents.

Sunday's attacks came despite signals from the Israeli government
that it would reassess its operations amid reports of tanks and other
vehicles leaving the war-scarred Palestinian territory.

Gaza's Health Ministry officials said nine Palestinians were killed
in one of the air raids while another 10 died, witnesses said, in an
attack on a UNRWA school in Rafah.

Chris Gunness, the UNRWA spokesman, confirmed that there was a
shelling incident in the vicinity of the UNRWA school at about 10.50am
local time.

"We can confirm, tragically again, multiple deaths, multiple injuries," he said.

"It's an appallingly unacceptable situation. We are an unarmed organisation."

Gunness said he would not speculate on whether the shelling was from
Israel until an investigation was held, adding that Israeli authorities
had been supplied with the precise coordinates of the school's location
and were aware that it was being used as a shelter.

The previous night, in a televised address Benjamin Netanyahu, the
Israeli prime minister, suggested Israeli troops would reassess the
27-day operation after completing the demolition of Hamas military
tunnels under the border.

But Hamas would pay an "intolerable price" should there be more attacks, he said.

Israeli security officials have said the tunnel-demolition mission is
winding down but as of Sunday, Israel was still carrying out air
strikes in southern Gaza.

Al Jazeera's Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from Beit Lahiya, said the
Israeli ground presence "seems to be easing off to a large degree but
what we are seeing a lot of is air strikes".

"I have heard consistent sound of artillery shelling in Beit Lahiya, not far from Gaza City," he said.

"So it would appear that although Israel publicly said it will start
scaling back the ground operation, it is clearly continuing.

"There's a lot of devastation in several areas there have been
attacks, in Rafah and Jabaliya, but there seems to be some kind of shift
in Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip."

Al Jazeera's James Bays, reporting from West Jerusalem, said it did
appear that Israel was "winding up some of its operations and pulling
troops out of Gaza".

But he said Israel's stance in ignoring ceasefire negotiations with
Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, and John Kerry, the US secretary of
state, indicated that it was only willing to proceed "on its own terms"
and at "a time of its own choosing".

"They've decided to do it on their own," he said.

"The problem with that is that those that have been mediating on both
sides have made it clear they also want to deal with the substantial
problems behind this, including [lifting the blockade] on Gaza.

"It's not acceptable that this situation occurs every 18 months or so
but it's clear that Israel wants to deal with this on its own terms."

Soldier 'killed'

Earlier on Sunday, the Israeli army said that it had determined
that Hadar Goldin, the 23-year-old soldier it said was captured by Hamas
on Friday, was killed in action.

The army had previously said that Goldin went missing when its
soldiers, two of whom were killed, were attacked while trying to destroy
a Hamas tunnel in southern Gaza.

In a statement, the army said Goldin "was killed in battle in the Gaza Strip on Friday".

There were reports that the military had come to the conclusion after examining DNA evidence.

Al Jazeera's Bays said there was "some speculation that he was not killed by Hamas but by Israeli bombardment in that area".

"Some of the Israeli media are reporting he [Goldin} may have died as a result of the Israeli bombardment of Rafah."

Gaza's Health Ministry officials said the death toll since Israel
began its offensive against Gaza on July 8 had now risen to 1,766
Palestinians, and another 9,320 people had been injured.

Among those killed were 398 children, 209 women and 74 elderly men.
There were also 64 soldiers and three civilians killed on the Israeli

More than 255,000 Palestinians have also been displaced in the conflict.


Al Jazeera and agencies

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