GAZA/JERUSALEM: An Israeli air strike killed 10 people and wounded about 30 on Sunday in a UN-run school in the southern Gaza Strip, a Palestinian official said, as dozens died in Israeli shelling of the enclave and Hamas fired rockets at Israel.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the attack as a “moral outrage and a criminal act” and called for those responsible for the “gross violation of international humanitarian law” to be held accountable.
The United States was “appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling” and urged Israel to do more to prevent civilian casualties, according to a statement by State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. She also called for an investigation into recent attacks on UN schools.
It was the second strike on a school in less than a week.
The Israeli military said it had “targeted three Islamic Jihad terrorists on board a motorcycle in the vicinity of an UNRWA school in Rafah” and added it was “reviewing the consequences of this strike.”
Islamic Jihad did not report any of its militants killed or injured in the incident. A Palestinian health official said all those wounded or killed were from inside the school.
Amid Hamas accusations that Israel had misled the world about the alleged capture of an Israeli soldier, the officer, Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, was buried on Sunday after the military said it recovered remains and he was killed in action.
Goldin’s suspected abduction led to the collapse of a US- and UN-brokered ceasefire on Friday. In Cairo, efforts to find a new truce were due to resume on Sunday.
With the fighting in its 27th day, Reuters TV footage showed a column of Israeli tanks and dozens of infantrymen leaving Gaza. But an Israeli military spokesman denied reports by Israeli and some US media that most Israeli troops had been pulled out of the coastal enclave.
“We are redeploying and regrouping, and we have extensive forces both on the ground in Gaza and on the border at this time,” Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said.
Israel’s troops were “awaiting further orders and preparing a course of action for the next stage,” Lerner said.
In the town of Rafah, where the military has been battling militants, a missile from an Israeli aircraft struck the entrance to the UN-run school, where Palestinians who had fled their homes were sheltering, witnesses and medics said.
Ashraf Al-Qidra, spokesman for the Gaza health ministry, said 10 people had been killed and 30 wounded, all from inside the school.
Robert Serry, UN Middle East Special Coordinator, said the school had been sheltering 3,000 displaced persons and the strike caused multiple deaths and injuries.
“It is simply intolerable that another school has come under fire while designated to provide shelter for civilians fleeing the hostilities,” he said.
Last Wednesday, at least 15 Palestinians who sought refuge in a UN-run school in Jabalya refugee camp were killed during fighting, and the UN said Israeli artillery had apparently hit the building. The Israeli military said gunmen had fired mortar bombs from near the school and it shot back in response.
Earlier on Sunday, Israeli shelling killed at least 30 people in Gaza, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to keep up pressure on Hamas even after the army completes its core mission of destroying a tunnel network used by Palestinian militants to attack Israel.
In Rafah, Fatah faction leader and local resident Ashraf Goma said locals were unable to deal with the casualties.
“Bodies of the wounded are bleeding in the streets and other corpses are laid on the road with no one able to recover them.
“I saw a man on a donkey cart bringing seven bodies into the hospital. Bodies are being kept in ice-cream refrigerators, in flower and vegetable coolers,” Goma told Reuters.
The Israeli army said that more than 55 rockets had been fired from Gaza at Israel on Sunday. Shrapnel from a rocket shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome interceptor fell inside a playground in the Tel Aviv area but caused no injury, media reports said.
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