Dozens more Palestinians killed as Israel strikes houses, UN school

2014-07-30 09:10

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Gaza/Jerusalem – Israeli fire killed at least 43 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip early today as Israel targeted Islamist militants at dozens of sites across the coastal enclave.

Meanwhile Egyptian mediators prepared a revised ceasefire proposal and Israel’s Channel Two TV said progress was being made to achieve a deal there. A Palestinian delegation is expected in Cairo for discussions.

Among the people killed by Israeli tank shells and air strikes in Jabalia in northern Gaza were 20 in a UN school, a medic and an infant, said health ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra.

Gaza officials said eight people, including five members of the same family in Jabalia, were killed in other strikes.

Hospital officials put the total number of Palestinians killed in the conflict at 1 245, most of them civilians.

On the Israeli side, 53 soldiers and three civilians have been killed since the start of the offensive on July 8.

UNRWA, the main UN relief agency in Gaza, said it was at “breaking point”. More than 200 000 Palestinians had taken shelter in its schools and buildings following calls by Israel for civilians to evacuate whole neighbourhoods before military operations, the agency said.

It acknowledged it had found a cache of rockets in one school but blamed no particular party. The body’s spokesperson, Chris Gunness, condemned those responsible for placing people in harm’s way.

“We condemn the group or groups who endangered civilians by placing these munitions in our school. This is yet another flagrant violation of the neutrality of our premises. We call on all the warring parties to respect the inviolability of UN property,” Gunness said.

The Israeli assault intensified after the deaths of 10 soldiers in Palestinian cross-border attacks on Monday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a long conflict ahead.

The security cabinet convenes again today to assess the situation in the conflict and consider future steps.

The army said it needed about a week to complete its main mission of destroying cross-border infiltration tunnels. There has been strong Israeli public support for holding course.

Diplomatic pressure also mounted, with Chile and Peru saying they were recalling their ambassadors to Israel.

Chile, a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, is home to one of the world’s largest Palestinian communities outside the Middle East, as well as a sizeable Jewish community.

“Chile observes with great concern and discouragement that the military operations – which at this point appear to be a collective punishment of the Palestinian civil population in Gaza – don’t respect fundamental norms of international humanitarian law,” Chile’s foreign ministry said.

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