Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Israel shells UN school, busy market in Gaza

Israel shells UN school, busy market in Gaza

Classroom destroyed in the Israeli attack on a UN school/Photo: Nick Casey via Twitter
Classroom destroyed in the Israeli attack on a UN school/Photo: Nick Casey via Twitter
 Written by Edmund Russell for the AIC
Israel shelled a UN school in Gaza just after dawn this morning, killing at least 19 and wounding over 90. In the afternoon a bustling market near Gaza City was hit, killing at least 17 and wounding over 200. 

Israel shelled a UN school in Gaza just after dawn this morning, killing at least 19 and wounding over 90. Pierre Krahenbuhl, commissioner-general of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, condemned “in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces” against the school in Jabaliya.
He said in a statement: “Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN-designated shelter in Gaza. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.
It was the sixth time that UNRWA schools had been struck, he added. “Our staff, the very people leading the humanitarian response are being killed. Our shelters are overflowing. Tens of thousands may soon be stranded in the streets of Gaza, without food, water and shelter if attacks on these areas continue.”
This attack comes just one day after Israel destroyed Gaza's sole power plan supplying electricity to Gaza.
A reported Israeli air strike Wednesday afternoon on a bustling market in Shuja’iya, east of Gaza City, killed at least 17 and wounded 200, Palestinian health officials said.
The market was crowded because people understood there was a ceasefire at the time, health officials reported. The Israeli military had warned that a “humanitarian window” did not apply “where IDF soldiers are operating.”
Amid reports that both sides were considering declaring ceasefires, Israel conducted numerous airstrikes overnight and periodically throughout the day. The current war on Gaza shows no signs of abating, as the Israeli army continues its destruction of Hamas' so called 'terror tunnels' which yesterday facilitated one of the most successful of the group infiltrations into Israel, which resulted in the killing of five Israeli soldiers.
Palestine medical sources declared this morning that now over 1,200 Palestinians have been killed, with many human rights organisations estimating that 80% of the dead are civilians. The Ministry of Health official also suggested that over 5000 Gazan homes have now been destroyed during the ongoing 23-day Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. Another 26,000 homes have been declared partially destroyed. These figures come as the Israeli authorities issue further evacuation orders for more than 400,000 residents of northern Gaza. The UN's World Health Organisation has stated that it believes over 215,000 Gazans have already had to flee their homes.
UNICEF, the UN agency for children, has expressed its alarm at the rapidly increasing number of innocent child victims of the conflict. According to the organisation more than 240 children have been killed, which represents nearly 30% of the civilian casualties. "In addition to being terrified to their core," UNICEF's Gaza field office chief Pernille Ironside said, "we see children killed, injured, mutilated and burnt. The consequences run much deeper than previous flare-ups."
Although Turkey, Egypt, Qatar and the USA have all proposed ceasefire terms, the proposals have not managed to garner sufficient domestic support in Israel, or from the various militant factions in Gaza. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are demanding a significant easing, if not a complete lifting, of the seven-year siege on and blockade of Gaza, which has prevented the isolated strip from growing economically or politically. Israel, on the other hand, are looking to see their 'defence anxieties' satisfied in any cease-fire agreement.  
Today, a Palestinian delegation, including the various Gaza factions, lead by PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, met in Cairo to discuss a temporary humanitarian ceasefire. The Ramallah-based PLO said yesterday that it had managed to secure Hamas' support for a 24-hour truce, but Israel's government has not commented on the proposal.
Yesterday John Kerry, US Secretary of State, suggested that PM Benjamin Netanyahu had asked for fresh help from the US in attempts to broker a ceasefire.  The chief American diplomat commented that Netanyahu "would embrace a ceasefire that permits Israel to protect itself against the Hamas terror tunnels, and would obviously not be disadvantaged for the great sacrifice they have made thus far."
Despite the willingness from militant groups in Gaza for a humanitarian ceasefire, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri stated firmly, that "when we have an Israeli commitment to a humanitarian truce, we will look into it but we will never declare a unilateral truce from our side while the occupation keeps killing our children."
Wednesday's deadly strikes come as Hamas appeals to former ally Hezbollah for help. According to Lebanon's Daily Star, Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy political chief of Hamas, has said he hopes that "the Lebanese front will open and together we will fight." This follows comments made by Hezbollah chief, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, promising that his group will do all they can to help the Palestinians.