Ten people were killed in Gaza Sunday by an Israeli airstrike close to a United Nations school sheltering displaced people, Fox News reported. At least 35 others were wounded.
Witnesses said those killed, including a sanitation worker and a man selling snow cones, and those wounded, including women and children, had been waiting in line for food supplies when a missile hit. The target appeared to be a motorcycle near the entrance of the school in the center of Rafah. About 3,000 Palestinians had sought shelter in the school, as reported by the New York Times.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack on the Rafah school as both “a moral outrage and a criminal act.”
A day after the 90-minute “Breakfast Ceasefire” ended prematurely when Israeli soldiers flushed Hamas fighters out of a tunnel in southern Gaza and a suicide bomber charged headlong at the Israelis, blowing up 3 of them, the IDF airstrikes and artillery shelling continued pounding suspected targets in the Gaza Strip.
Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said at least 10 people were killed and 35 wounded after the strike near the boys’ school in Rafah. Robert Turner, the director of operations for the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza, said preliminary findings indicated the blast was an Israeli airstrike near the school, which had been providing shelter for some 3,000 people. He said that at least one U.N. staffer was also killed in the attack.
“The locations of all these installations have been passed to the Israeli military multiple times,” Turner said. “They know where these shelters are. How this continues to happen, I have no idea. I have no words for it. I don’t understand it.”
The Israeli military said they were investigating the strike and made no claim of responsibility.
At least six U.N. facilities, including schools sheltering the displaced, have been struck by Israeli fire since the conflict began. In each earlier case, Israel has said it was only responding to militants launching rockets or other attacks from areas close to the schools.
Either the IDF’s terribly inaccurate firepower, or else it’s callous disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians, or a fatal combination of both – has ignited a firestorm of international condemnation.
After the incident at the tunnel in Rafah, the Israelis claimed that Hamas fighters had dragged one of their soldiers back into the tunnel as a hostage–thereby effectively aborting the nascent ceasefire. Hamas claimed that the incident in question had taken place before the ceasefire was scheduled to go into effect and also that they had not taken any Israeli hostages. Today the Israelis announced that DNA testing on partial remains found at the site indicated that the missing soldier had in fact actually been blown up by the suicide bomber.
In Cairo, Egyptian and Palestinian negotiators held talks over a potential cease-fire. But after accusing Hamas of repeatedly violating humanitarian cease-fire arrangements, Israel said it would not attend the talks and there was “no point” negotiating with the Islamic militant group.
Israeli officials said the tunnel mission was winding down and Israel would soon be taking its troops out of Gaza. As Operation Protective Edge appears to have fulfilled its mission, the Israelis are now trying to decide what course to take next, continue their military offensive, or withdraw and try to influence international public opinion to convince Hamas to disarm.
In the meantime, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismisses talk of a cease-fire and said that the operation would end “on his terms,” according to ABC News.
After nearly a month of fighting, Palestinian health officials say more than 1,750 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed. Nearly 70 Israelis, almost all soldiers, have been killed.