Monday, August 4, 2014

UN chief: Gaza school attack a 'criminal act'; Ban Ki-moon tells Israel to 'end this madness' after bombardment kills at least 10 people and injures dozens

    Monday, August 04, 2014   No comments

A third deadly attack on a United Nations school sheltering people fleeing bombardment in Gaza was strongly condemned by both the UN and the US on Sunday, with UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, calling it a "moral outrage and a criminal act" and pleading for an end to "this madness".

The Israeli defence ministry said on Sunday night that Israel would hold a truce in most of Gaza for seven hours on Monday for humanitarian aid and to allow displaced Palestinians to return to their homes, but would fight back if attacked.

The humanitarian truce, beginning at 10am (0700 GMT), would not apply in areas of Rafah, the ministry said, because Israeli forces are remaining on the ground in and around the southern Gaza town to destroy a cross-border tunnel.

The US said it was appalled by the "disgraceful" school attack, which killed at least 10 people and injured dozens just days after the shelling of two other UN schools in Gaza caused international shock and anger.

A hospital near the site of the attack, in the southern town of Rafah, was overwhelmed with the dead and injured. Children's bodies were stored in an ice-cream freezer as the morgue ran out of room.

It was, said Ban, "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". He called for a swift investigation, saying "those responsible [must be] held accountable. It is a moral outrage and a criminal act."

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) had been "repeatedly informed of the location of these sites", Ban added.

In an unusually severe statement, the US state department called on Israel to do "more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties".

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