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#################### Geoff Seidner
Friday, 25 July 2014
LYONS!!! 25/7 Gaza school shelled by Israelis, killing 15
Israeli artillery fires a 155mm shell towards targets in the Gaza Strip from its position near Israel’s border with the Palestinian enclave.Source: AFP
Residents and journalists run for cover from gunfire during a brief ceasefire in Gaza City’s Shijaiyah neighbourhood.Source: AP
AT least 15 people were killed, including a baby, when an Israeli shell slammed into a UN-run school in the northern Gaza Strip last night. More than 200 were injured.
Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra put the toll as high as 15 dead and dozens injured, with more bodies and wounded expected to arrive at nearby hospitals.
It was the latest in a number of Israeli strikes on schools and hospitals in the embattled Palestinian territory, as the death toll from a 17-day operation to halt rocket fire by Gaza militants topped 770.
If came after Hamas ruled out a ceasefire in Gaza unless Israel ends the seven-year blockade of the enclave and as Washington lifted its controversial flight ban to the area, citing progress in truce talks.
Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal said yesterday the Islamic group would back a humanitarian ceasefire to the bloodshed, but he insisted that any permanent arrangement needed to contain a real concession for Gaza.
“We will not accept any initiative that does not lift the blockade on our people and that does not respect their sacrifices,” he said from his home-in-exile in Doha, Qatar.
The comments came as US Secretary of State John Kerry continued his push to bring the warring sides together.
“We certainly have made steps forward,” he said in Jerusalem. “There’s still work to be done.”
Three Israeli soldiers were killed yesterday, taking to 32 the number killed since the ground offensive began a week ago. Two Israeli civilians have also been killed.
The UN Human Rights Council flagged an inquiry into whether Israel had committed war crimes. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said: “There seems to be a strong possibility that international humanitarian law has been violated in a manner that could amount to war crimes.”
Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni dismissed the claim, writing on her Facebook page: “Get lost.”
Following the high rate of civilian casualties, 10 Israeli human rights groups have called on their Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to “instruct the government to refrain from violating the laws of war and re-evaluate its aggressive policy and rules of engagement”.
The US Federal Aviation Authority, meanwhile, lifted a ban on US airlines flying to Tel Aviv but said it would monitor the situation.
The ban came after a rocket from Gaza had hit Yehud, a suburb of Tel Aviv about 5km from the airport. Several international airlines followed that lead, causing the cancellation of scores of flights. Israel insists the airport is secure.
Hamas had hailed the suspension of Tel Aviv flights by US and European airlines as a “great victory for the resistance”.
Israeli media said pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC — the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — had called on the FAA to reconsider their decision because in previous weeks hundreds of rockets were fired at Israel but there had been no ban.
Israel Radio News said pro-Israel Republican senator Ted Cruz said the ban had amounted to “an economic boycott” by the Obama administration — a claim the US State Department rejected as “ridiculous”.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Mr Kerry met in Tel Aviv to attempt to find a solution.
Mr Kerry said he would continue to work with Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, for a ceasefire.
Mr Ban said the UN and US were “now joining forces in strength” to produce a ceasefire as soon as possible.
The Foreign Press Association, which represents journalists working in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, condemned “deliberate official and unofficial incitement” against journalists covering the current war. “On Tuesday IDF forces aimed live fire at the Al Jazeera offices in Gaza City,” the FPA said.