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15 killed at Gaza UN school; Israel holds fire


By KARIN LAUB and PETER ENAV
Associated Press

JEBALIYA REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israeli tank shells slammed into a crowded U.N. school sheltering Gazans displaced by fighting on Wednesday, killing 15 and wounding 90 after tearing through the walls of two classrooms, a spokesman for a U.N. aid agency and a health official said.

The Israeli military said mortar shells had been fired from near the school, and that soldiers fired back.

Later Wednesday, the Israeli military declared a four-hour humanitarian cease-fire in parts of Gaza beginning at 3:00 p.m. Hamas had no immediate comment.

Israeli airstrikes and shelling also killed 40 Palestinians elsewhere in the coastal territory on Wednesday, including multiple members of two families struck in their homes, health officials said.

The new violence further dimmed hopes of a cease-fire.

The strike at the U.N. school in the Jebaliya refugee camp came as part of Israel's heaviest air and artillery assault in more than three weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting.

The Israeli campaign escalated on Tuesday, with airstrikes destroying key symbols of Hamas power, including the home of the top Hamas leader. Gaza's only power plant was shut down after shells set its fuel tank on fire.

On Wednesday, Israeli aircraft struck dozens of Gaza sites, including five mosques it said were being used by militants, while several other areas came under tank fire.

In Jebaliya, tank shells hit the U.N. school before dawn, said Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. The agency is sheltering more than 200,000 people displaced by the fighting at dozens of U.N. schools across the coastal strip.

Gaza Shelling Hits UN School


Assad Sabah said he and his five children were huddling under desks in one of the classrooms because of the constant sound of tank fire throughout the night.

"We were scared to death," he said. "After 4:30 a.m., tanks started firing more. Three explosions shook the school."

"One classroom collapsed over the head of the people who were inside," he said.

In one classroom, the front wall was blown out, leaving debris and bloodied clothing. Another strike tore a large round hole into the ceiling of a second-floor classroom. The wall of the lavatories was also damaged.

The Israeli military said it fired after its soldiers were targeted by mortars operating from the vicinity of the school.

"In response, soldiers fired toward the origins of fire. And we're still reviewing the incident," the military said in a statement.

About two hours after the strike, hundreds of people still crowded the school courtyard, some dazed, others wailing.

Aishe Abu Darabeh, 56, sat on the ground with her relatives.

"Where will we go?" she asked. "Where will we go next? We fled and they (the Israelis) are following us."

Four of the dead were killed just outside the school compound, two in their home nearby and two in the street, after returning from pre-dawn prayers, their relatives said.

The bodies of two members of the al-Najar family, 56-year-old Shaher and his 41-year-old brother, Bassem, were laid out in one of the rooms of their small home, surrounded by wailing relatives. Outside the gate, another relative held on to his crying son, hugging him tight and saying: "I'm here, I'm not going anywhere."

Abu Hasna, the U.N. agency spokesman, said the international community must step in.

"It's the responsibility of the world to tell us what we shall do with more than 200,000 people who are inside our schools, thinking that the U.N. flag will protect them," he said. "This incident today proves that no place is safe in Gaza."

Ashraf al-Kidra, a Gaza health official, said at least 15 people were killed and about 90 wounded in the school strike.

In all, 55 Palestinians were killed by airstrikes and tank shelling in different areas of Gaza on Wednesday, al-Kidra said.

In the southern town of Khan Younis, 10 members of one family were killed when an airstrike hit a relative's home where they had sought refuge from the fighting, al-Kidra said.

After the strike, relatives climbed over large piles of debris, surveying shattered windows and demolished walls.

"When the strike happened, I was sleeping, me and my brother and one of my relatives, we were sleeping. And we tried to look through the window to see what happened. But we couldn't see anything because of the smoke. And when we came down, we saw everything was damaged," said Mohammed al-Astal, a relative.

In the Gaza City neighborhood of Tufah, shelling killed at last seven members of another family, including four children, said Ayman Sahabani, the head of the emergency room at Gaza's Shifa Hospital.

The total number of Palestinians killed since the start of fighting July 8 rose to 1,284, al-Kidra said. In addition, more than 7,100 Palestinians have been wounded.

Israel has lost 53 soldiers and three civilians.

Israel has said its Gaza operation is meant to stop Hamas rocket and mortar fire that has reached increasingly deeper into its territory and to destroy a sophisticated network of Hamas military tunnels used for attacks in Israel.

Gaza militants have fired more than 2,600 rockets toward Israel over the past three weeks, according to the Israeli army.

The Israeli military has said it is hitting targets linked to militants, such as rocket launching sites, weapon depots and Hamas military tunnels. Over the past 23 days, Israeli forces have hit 4,100 targets in Gaza, about one-third connected to the militants' ability to launch rockets at Israel, a statement said.

The military has not provided details on strikes in which multiple members of one family were killed. There have been several dozen such strikes, according to the Palestinian human rights group Al- Mezan.

The military says Hamas militants often launch rockets from crowded residential areas, thus endangering nearby civilians. The army says it has also given civilians a chance to leave dangerous areas by sending warnings in phone calls and leaflets.

On Wednesday, aircraft dropped leaflets over Gaza City's Rimal neighborhood. The leaflets urged residents to stay away from Hamas militants and to report possible rocket launches. The leaflet gave a contact phone number and email.

"The Israeli Defense Forces are going into a new phase in the coming operation and does not want to harm civilians," the leaflet said. "The army is warning residents in the areas where the operation will take place that for your safety, you have to keep away from terrorists and the locations from which they operate."

Separately, Israeli troops in Gaza's border areas are searching for Hamas military tunnels used for carrying out attacks in Israel. Israeli leaders have said troops would not leave until all the tunnels have been demolished.

The army said 32 tunnels have so far been located but did not say how many remain. Since Tuesday morning, troops have demolished three more tunnels, a statement said.

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meemeepit July 30 2014 at 9:11 AM

HOW ABOUT stopping the PICTURES of CRYING CHILDREN...and show how HAMAS uses them for HUMAN SHIELDS???WHAT are you afraid of??

JUST THE TRUTH...

Flag Reply +100 rate up
31 replies
pitterbingo July 30 2014 at 9:08 AM

and where was the OUTCRY for HUMAN DECENCY???from anybody
when HITLER was doing his DASTARDLY ****...???IT is in the WORLDS best interest (in my OPINION)THAT HAMAS be GUTTED DESTROYED...and no more BULL **** from other countries...

Flag Reply +99 rate up
14 replies
aaldrew July 30 2014 at 9:06 AM

Don't let up Israel.

Flag Reply +99 rate up
13 replies
chrlbrw1122 July 30 2014 at 9:09 AM

This is what war is.. Israel should just keep on untill they get Hamas to give up. After all Hamas started with the rocketts.

Flag Reply +99 rate up
16 replies
MARTHA & PERRY July 30 2014 at 9:15 AM

women and children are pawns in this conflict. want someone to blame? then blame Hamas.

Flag Reply +93 rate up
8 replies
karenjohnsonfl July 30 2014 at 9:05 AM

Humas should have accepted the truce placed on the table by Egypt and Israel a few weeks ago.

Flag Reply +88 rate up
9 replies
bailey.willie July 30 2014 at 9:06 AM

DON'T STOP . TELL THE MEDIA TO GO TO HELL. KEEP GOING

Flag Reply +82 rate up
6 replies
palmspringslife July 30 2014 at 10:37 AM

Well AOL....you're doing a great job of inciting feelings of anti-semetism with your over-the-top photos of Palestinian children screaming in pain. YOU GUYS SUCK!!! HOW ABOUT CONCENTRATING ON THE TRUTH ABOUT HAMAS AS A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION NOT ONLY A THREAT TO ISRAEL BUT THE WORLD. CHEAP TABLOID-STYLE JOURNALISM - FIRE YOUR CURRENT STAFF OF REPORTERS AND LEARN HONEST UNBIASED NEWS REPORTING.

Flag Reply +76 rate up
16 replies
Meh... July 30 2014 at 9:08 AM

This just keeps getting worse and worse. So sad all the loss of civilian life. I believe it is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better.

Flag Reply +24 rate up
11 replies
Hey, Dude July 30 2014 at 10:57 AM

Why don't you use a more truthful headline...it should read "Hamas terrorist ****** murdered more innocent children because kids aren't sturdy enough to be used as human shields". Israel isn't killing those kids--the heathen terrorists are. The Hamas started this war, so the blame for everything bad that comes from it is their fault, not Israel's. Grow a pair, stop your blatant grasp for ratings by sensationalizing dead or broken children, and report the truth...all of those kids' deaths are because the Hamas are inbred terrorists. Israel is the good guy in this situation...we all know the filthy Hamas would never offer a humanitarian cease fire... those things don't even care about their own people. Like all bottom feeding terrorists, the Hamas only care about bloodshed, and their idiot cries of 'death to the infidel!'. Maybe radical liberals buy the crap that they 'had a reason' for starting this war, but smart people don't buy it. We know that terrorists are all evil savages.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
take20pct Hey, Dude July 30 2014 at 11:18 AM

Another paid post?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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