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Gaza: 10 dead after strike near UN school

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) - A United Nations school sheltering displaced people in the southern Gaza Strip was hit Sunday by what a U.N. official said appeared to be an Israeli airstrike that killed 10 people as Israel signaled a possible scaling back in the ongoing war.

The Israeli military had no comment on the Rafah school strike but confirmed it was redeploying along the Gaza border for a "new phase" of an operation aimed at stopping rocket fire toward Israel and destroying the Hamas underground tunnel network.

"We have indeed scaled down some of the presence and indeed urged Palestinians in certain neighborhoods to come back to their homes," said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman.

Several Israeli tanks and other vehicles were seen leaving Gaza a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested troops would reassess operations after completing the demolition of Hamas tunnels under the border. Security officials said the tunnel mission was winding down and Israel would soon be taking its troops out of the strip.

In Gaza, meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes and tank shelling continued. 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 the strike killed at least one U.N. staffer.

"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.

Inside the U.N. school's compound, several bodies, among them children, were strewn across the ground in puddles of blood.

"Our trust and our fate is only in the hands of God!" one woman cried.

Some of the wounded were transported to the Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah and others were treated in what seemed to be a makeshift clinic underneath a tent.

At least six U.N. facilities, including schools sheltering the displaced, have been struck by Israeli fire since the conflict began, drawing international condemnation. In each case Israel has said it was responding to militants launching rockets or other attacks from nearby.

In nearly four weeks of fighting, Palestinian health officials say more than 1,750 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed. Nearly 70 Israelis, almost all soldiers, have been killed.

Israel launched an aerial campaign in Gaza on July 8 to try to halt Palestinian rocket fire on major cities, and later sent in troops to dismantle Hamas' cross-border tunnels that have been used to carry out attacks.

Artillery shells slammed into two high-rise office buildings Sunday in downtown Gaza City and large explosions could be heard seconds apart, police and witnesses said. Al-Kidra said more than 50 Palestinians were killed Sunday, including 10 members of one family in a single strike in the southern Gaza Strip. Israel said it carried out 180 strikes Sunday.

The bodies of the Al Ghoul family, killed early Sunday morning, were lined up on the floor of the Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah. Doctors wiped dried blood from the faces of three men. Outside the hospital, men and children shed tears while sobbing women cradled the smallest of the dead, kissing their faces.

In another hospital room at the hospital, at least four children were piled into an ice cream freezer, all wrapped in white cloth drenched in blood. Doctors say that morgues in Rafah are at maximum capacity.

In Cairo, Egyptian and Palestinian negotiators held talks over a potential cease-fire. 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.

Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq said the Israelis will have to either withdraw unilaterally or accept a political agreement that addresses Hamas' demands.

"Hamas will not accept any ceasefire deal as long as Israelis are still in Gaza Strip," he said.

Hamas has said it will not stop fighting until Israel and Egypt lift their blockade of Gaza, imposed after the Islamic militant group overran the territory in 2007. Large swaths of Gaza have been destroyed and some 250,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since the war began.

In a televised address late Saturday, Netanyahu warned Hamas they would pay an "intolerable price" if militants continued to fire rockets at Israel and that all options remain on the table.

From an Israeli perspective, the advantage of a unilateral pullout or troop redeployment to the strip's fringes is that it can do so on its own terms, rather than becoming entangled in negotiations with Hamas. However, a unilateral pullback does not address the underlying causes of cross-border tensions and carries the risk of a new flare-up of violence in the future.

Rocket fire continued toward Israel Sunday. More than 3,000 rockets have been fired since the war began, which have killed three civilians and damaged several homes. Several soldiers have been killed in the current round of fighting by Palestinian gunmen who popped out of tunnels near Israeli communities along the Gaza border.

The Israeli military death toll rose to 64 after Israel announced that Hadar Goldin, a 23-year-old infantry lieutenant feared captured in Gaza, was actually killed in battle. His funeral is later Sunday.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon revealed on his Facebook page Sunday that he is a distant relative of Goldin and had known him his whole life. The information was previously kept under wraps while Goldin was feared to be abducted.

Israel had earlier said it feared Goldin had been captured by Hamas militants Friday near Rafah in an ambush that shattered an internationally brokered cease-fire and was followed by heavy Israeli shelling that left dozens of Palestinians dead.

Israel Accused Of Another Strike On U.N. School In Gaza

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nasatristate August 03 2014 at 6:57 AM

George Soros and Arianna Huffington's liberal agenda has turned the Huff Post into the propaganda arm of Hamas!

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38 replies
nasatristate August 03 2014 at 6:53 AM

By now everyone knows that Al Jazeera, excuse the Huff Post articles are tainted as they clearly support Hamas. Example, earlier in the week a hospital was struck and 10 died, including 9 children. Another Israeli war crime? Not! When it was determined that the hospital was struck by a Hamas missile absolutely nothing was written about it in Al JaHuffington Post, sort of like guilty before proven innocent! The liberal agenda!

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10 replies
whdlsn August 03 2014 at 6:54 AM

They have brought this on themselves and now must suffer the backlash. I guess hamas thought they could shell Israel, run to the liberal press and UN for protection? This is a non-story and should be treated as such.

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8 replies
coopdabomb August 03 2014 at 7:08 AM

To bad huff/aol won't give the same coverage to IRS, CIA, VA, NSA, and Benghazi.

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11 replies
dlauritz1 August 03 2014 at 7:09 AM

Is Hamas broadcasting these same pictures to its own people with the caption, "we are sorry for putting these innocent ones in harm's way"???
I have been to Israel, saw how they are mistreated by the international press and the UN.
Go Israel Go, while it is a shame that children get hurt, it is always a shame when kids are mistreated and abused..it is the price of war. Tell that to those within Hamas, still firing rockets at Israel.....hoping to hurt and kill Israeli's .... including children.
What a bore Hamas has become, what an embarrassing entity the UN is.
Will Gaza now have elections and vote out Hamas....no, they are too blinded by their hatred to become productive and useful in any way. An entire culture of people, who for over a thousand years, have contributed nothing to themselves nor the world.
Islam, speed up your adaptation to modernity and free your people to experience life outside of Sharia law. There might actually be something worth dying for within your culture

Flag Reply +97 rate up
11 replies
bnapoli August 03 2014 at 7:11 AM

Not much difference between HuffPost and Al Jazeera. Both are pro- Hamas in their reporting, but then the mainstream media has sucked for years now in their " biased reporting ". Sad state of journalism.

Flag Reply +92 rate up
2 replies
gvette75 bnapoli August 03 2014 at 9:15 AM

I haven't seen any facts yet, phardynetmail.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
mociambz bnapoli August 03 2014 at 10:23 AM

phardy is a muslim terrorist that is contaminating America deport them back to palistine

Flag Reply +2 rate up
b August 03 2014 at 6:51 AM

U.N. locations are where Hamas missiles were found numerous times.

Flag Reply +83 rate up
6 replies
our.president.is.a.muslim August 03 2014 at 7:28 AM

NONE OF THIS needs to happen.
If it does not stop soon,
If Israel continues to bomb
Hamas weapons locations such as
schools, mosques and hospitals,
Then Hamas Muslims will find their stored weapons supply exhaust...!
What good
are Hamas human shields
with no weapons supply...!

Flag Reply +73 rate up
9 replies
rlcallaway August 03 2014 at 7:20 AM

Of course Hamas uses schools, hospitals, mosques, and similar sites to hide their weapons while using civilians -- especially children -- as human shields. Maybe the Palestinians will finally wake up and take action against Hamas who are the ones creating all of this death and destruction. I feel sorry for the Palestinian people but they allowed this to happen when they gave control to Hamas.

Flag Reply +71 rate up
6 replies
lawlady50 August 03 2014 at 7:00 AM

The Hamas don't care how many Arabs or Israelis they kill. The U.N. failed again in policing where the money we were dumping into the Gaza was going to build. What happened to all the humanitarian processes...instead the Hamas build cement tunnels with electricity to kill more Israelis. Arabs who sit idle by are just as responsible for the deaths caused on both sides.
when you elected the Hamas..did you REALLY believe they had your best interests at heart. The country will self destruct.

Flag Reply +55 rate up
7 replies
aol~~ 1209600

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