UN chief condemns attack on Gaza school

A man reacts as wounded and dead people lie on the ground following an Israeli airstrike at a UN-run school sheltering 3,000 displaced Gazans.

A man reacts as wounded and dead people lie on the ground following an Israeli airstrike at a UN-run school sheltering 3,000 displaced Gazans.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned an attack that killed 10 people at a UN school in the Gaza Strip on Sunday as “a moral outrage and a criminal act.”

In his most strongly worded statement yet on an attack against a UN facility in Gaza, Ban called it “yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law, which clearly requires protection by both parties of Palestinian civilians, UN staff and UN premises, among other civilian facilities.”
Ban said: “This attack, along with other breaches of international law, must be swiftly investigated and those responsible held accountable. It is a moral outrage and a criminal act. This madness must stop.”

A Gaza health official said at least 10 people were killed and 35 wounded after the strike near the boys’ school in Rafah. Several bodies, among them children, were strewn inside the UN school’s compound. At least one UN staffer was killed, said Robert Turner, the director of operations for the UN Palestinian refugee agency.

The US said it was “appalled” by the “disgraceful” shelling.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called on Israel to do “more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties.”

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond demanded an unconditional cease-fire to resolve the “intolerable” situation for civilians. And in Cairo, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi demanded both sides “immediately” halt their fire.

But there was little respite on the ground, where over 80 people were killed in Rafah alone in a fresh wave of bloodshed which sent the death toll soaring well over 1,800.

At the school, a correspondent witnessed scenes of chaos, with rescuers trying to evacuate the wounded any way they could, while adults were seen sprinting frantically away through pools of blood, young children clutched in their arms.

With hospitals under increasing pressure from the bombardment and the soaring numbers of casualties, Gaza’s medical services have reached the brink of collapse, the UN warned.

Israel meanwhile opted to unilaterally redeploy its troops in Gaza without the need for dialogue
with Hamas.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said: “Hamas can carry on waiting.”

 
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