World stands ‘disgraced’: 16 die as Israel shells UN school
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned an Israeli strike on a Gaza school that killed 16 people as “unjustifiable” Wednesday, calling for those responsible to be held to account.
“This morning a UN school sheltering thousands of Palestinian families suffered a reprehensible attack,” Ban said during a visit to Costa Rica.
“It is unjustifiable, and demands accountability and justice.”
The school in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, which was sheltering more than 3,000 displaced people, came under attack from Israeli tank shells at dawn Wednesday.
Gaza health officials say 15 people were killed.
It is the second time in a week that a UN school housing refugees has been hit.
Ban accused the Israeli military of ignoring repeated communications on the location of the school.
“I want to make it clear that the exact location of this elementary school has been communicated to the Israeli military authorities 17 times, as recently as last night, just a few hours before this attack,” he said.
“They are aware of the coordinates and exact location of where these people are.”
The UN relief and works agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) strongly condemned the Israeli shelling.
“Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl said.
Speaking at UN headquarters in New York, Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson voiced his “shock” and “dismay” at the attack.
“They were there under UN protection, under our protection,” he said of the refugees.
He stressed that civilians seeking to flee the fighting had “nowhere to go” given that Gaza’s borders with neighboring countries were shut.
“This is a moment when you really have to say ‘enough is enough,’” he said.
John Ging, director of operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said a “child per hour is killed” in Gaza.
The US is condemning Israel’s shelling of the UN school.
It’s the sharpest criticism the US has leveled at Israel over the more than three weeks of fighting.
White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan says the US is also “extremely concerned” that thousands of Palestinians aren’t safe in UN-designated shelters in Gaza.
In another savage attack on civilians, at least 17 people were killed and 200 wounded when Israeli jets hit a packed market near Gaza City.
Emergency services spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra said the bomb hit a busy market in the battered Shejaiya neighborhood, which lies between Gaza City and the border with Israel.
The strike came shortly after the Israeli army said it was observing a humanitarian lull that would be in force for four hours from 1200 GMT.
The Israeli Army said three soldiers had been killed while trying to destroy a booby-trapped tunnel inside the Gaza Strip.