News / Middle East

At Least 15 Dead as Israel Strikes Gaza Market

Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
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Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
VIDEO: Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
VOA News

At least 15 Palestinians were killed during an Israeli military strike near a crowded market in Shejaia on Wednesday, Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said. He said 160 people were also wounded.

The news came after Israel announced a brief, four-hour cease-fire which began at 1200 GMT (3:00 p.m. local time) and appeared not to last. The Israeli military added that areas where troops were "currently operating" would be exempt.

Hamas denounced the pause as having "no value" and continued to fire rockets, saying it would fight on its own terms, not Israel’s, CNN reported from the scene.

According to the Israeli Defense Force, Hamas fired 26 rockets at Israel, two of which were intercepted above Ashkelon and Netivot. IDF said since midnight 84 rockets had been fired at Israel.

Witnesses reported seeing black smoke billowing above the Shejaia neighborhood after intense shelling. Video footage broadcast by Hamas broadcast outlet Al Aqsa showed dead bodies in pools of blood and wounded people being evacuated by residents.

A Palestinian journalist was reportedly among the dead.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was checking the report.

  • A laborer tends a watermelon field as tanks are stationed near the border with Gaza, July 30, 2014. 
  • Palestinians look at donkeys that were killed by an Israeli strike earlier in the day at the adjacent Abu Hussein U.N. school seen in background, in Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, July 30, 2014. 
  • Israeli army tanks and armored vehicles are seen in Gaza near the border with Israel, July 30, 2014. 
  • Smoke and fire from the explosion of an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City amid Israel's heaviest air and artillery assault in more than three weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting, July 30, 2014. 
  • Israeli soldiers from the Golani Brigade stand in a circle at a staging area before entering Gaza from Israel, July 30, 2014. 
  • Palestinians carry bodies of 10 members of the Al Astal immediate and extended family that were killed by an Israeli strike on their homes, during their funeral in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip,  July 30, 2014. 
  • Israeli soldiers stand near the border with Gaza, July 30, 2014.
  • A Palestinian girl cries while receiving treatment for her injuries caused by an Israeli strike at a U.N. school in Jebaliya refugee camp, at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, July 30, 2014. 

UN school struck

Separately, a United Nations-run school in Gaza was shelled Wednesday.

The attack, which killed at least 15 and wounded more than 100 people, happened about 5:30 a.m. (0230 GMT) at the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza.

Several hours later, it remained a chaotic scene. Shelling had caved in a wall of the classroom harboring most of the victims. Blankets remained on the floor, along with traces of flesh and blood. In the courtyard, benches and chairs were scattered. So were the carcasses of several cows and donkeys killed in the attack.

A Palestinian girl carries belongings as she and her family leave the Abu Hussein U.N. school in the Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, hit by an Israeli strike earlier, July 30, 2014.A Palestinian girl carries belongings as she and her family leave the Abu Hussein U.N. school in the Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, hit by an Israeli strike earlier, July 30, 2014.
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A Palestinian girl carries belongings as she and her family leave the Abu Hussein U.N. school in the Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, hit by an Israeli strike earlier, July 30, 2014.
A Palestinian girl carries belongings as she and her family leave the Abu Hussein U.N. school in the Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, hit by an Israeli strike earlier, July 30, 2014.

People milled about in shock. Some questioned the rationale for seeking shelter away from home, after heeding Israeli warnings — by phone and leaflet — of pending airstrikes in their respective neighborhoods. If they aren’t safe at a U.N.-run school shelter, several said with resignation, they might as well go home to die.

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson was emotional as he spoke about the attack which also injured more than 100 people, saying all indicators show Israeli artillery hit the school, killing at least 16 people who were sheltering there, including children.

The school is one of 85 sites where the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said more than 200,000 people are now seeking shelter. This site was so overcrowded that families had set up camp outside, using desks and chairs to define spaces. Daytime temperatures of at least 32 degrees Celsius, or 91 Fahrenheit, only added to the misery.

US condemnation

The United States condemned Israel's shelling of the school in some of the sharpest criticism Washington has leveled at Israel over the more than three weeks of fighting.

White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the U.S. is also "extremely concerned" that thousands of Palestinians aren't safe in U.N.-designated shelters in Gaza even though Israel's military has told them to evacuate their homes.

Meehan said the U.S. also condemns those responsible for hiding weapons in U.N. facilities in Gaza, adding that the escalation shows the need for a cease-fire as soon as possible.

Some Palestinians believe the outside world has abandoned them. Several people at the school expressed anger toward the international community and Arab leaders whom they say have provided little if any assistance.

The United States has pledged $47 million in humanitarian aid, including an initial $15 million to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in response to its recent urgent appeal. Other groups, such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, are delivering aid.

Early morning shelling

Overnight into Wednesday morning, Israel continued to bombard Gaza City with dozens of airstrikes and heavy tank shelling as the conflict between the Jewish state and Hamas entered its 23rd day.

At least 32 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were killed early Wednesday as the Jewish state said it targeted Islamist militants at dozens of sites across the coastal enclave, health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said.

Among the dead were a medic and an infant. An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was checking for details.

Eight people, including five members of the same family in Jebalya, were killed in other strikes, Gaza officials said.

Hospital officials put the total number of Palestinians killed in the conflict to at least 1,224, most of them civilians. On the Israeli side, 53 soldiers and three civilians have been killed since the Jewish state began its offensive July 8 to halt rocket salvoes fired by Gaza's dominant Hamas Islamists and their allies.

The Israeli security cabinet was to convene again Wednesday to assess the situation and consider future steps.

The army said it needed about a week to complete its main mission of destroying cross-border infiltration tunnels and there has been strong Israeli public support for holding course.

Israeli's military issued a statement saying it so far had hit 4,100 targets in Gaza, with a third of them involving Hamas militants' ability to attack Israel with rockets, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Cease-fire negotiations

Despite the soaring death toll, the militants will not cease fire until their demands are met, according to Hamas' military leader, Mohammed Deif. 

But Israel's Channel Two TV said progress was being made toward a deal in Cairo, where a Palestinian delegation was expected to arrive for discussions.

The West Bank-headquartered Palestine Liberation Organization, which has been at odds with Hamas for years, said it had garnered the Islamist movement's support for a 24-hour truce, but did not say when that was due to start.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "was in touch with [Hamas chief Khaled] Meshaal Tuesday and Wednesday. He proposed the 24-hour truce, Meshaal and Hamas agreed," senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath told AFP on Tuesday.

However, Hamas said so far it had not agreed to any new truce.

"When we have an Israeli commitment ... on a humanitarian truce, we will look into it but we will never declare a truce from our side while the occupation keeps killing our children," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

Israel's government had no comment on the proposal.

'Breaking point'

UNRWA, the main U.N. relief agency in Gaza, said it was at “breaking point” with more than 200,000 Palestinians sheltering in its schools and buildings following calls by Israel for civilians to evacuate whole neighborhoods before military operations.

The agency acknowledged that it had found a cache of rockets in one school but blamed no particular party. Instead, its spokesman, Chris Gunness, condemned "the group or groups who endangered civilians by placing these munitions in our school."

"This is yet another flagrant violation of the neutrality of our premises," Gunness said in a statement. "We call on all the warring parties to respect the inviolability of U.N. property.”

The Israeli assault intensified after the deaths of 10 soldiers in Palestinian cross-border attacks on Monday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a long conflict ahead.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters, AP and AFP. VOA correspondent Scott Bobb contributed reporting from Gaza City. VOA correspondent Margaret Besheer reported from the United Nations.

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by: Observer
July 31, 2014 2:21 AM
here you can see how they killing terrorists ...
http://youtu.be/xbet8MTeMWk

by: mark from: nj
July 30, 2014 10:39 PM
Did the UN investigate these atrocities? (or are investigations reserved only against Jews)

THIRD Rocket Arsenal Found At UN School. http://bit.ly/1o9OJW3 oops. Than the missiles “go missing” :) http://bit.ly/1uGBF3W
PHOTOS: Hamas Weaponries Women, Children, and Animals... http://bit.ly/1laquak
Abuse young children: http://goo.gl/mk0vB5
Hamas Fire Rockets from a:
School http://bit.ly/1nHNVwm
Wafa Hospital http://bit.ly/1lcS8DH
Civilian Areas http://bit.ly/1lcXrmx
Graveyard http://bit.ly/1zuwFP9
Terrorists Use Ambulance for getaway car http://bit.ly/1qz0zRk
Palestinian rocket misfire hit Al-Shifa Hospital http://bit.ly/WMXPCX
war crimes: http://bit.ly/1AyN1Yc

Are they investigating these war crimes? Just wondering, do their institutions serve as human shields?
Why are you not reporting about Hamas firing rockets at IDF from tunnels under UNWRA schools, hospitals, mosques etc. there seems to be clear evidence
In Response

by: Yuval Brandstetter
July 31, 2014 1:26 AM
HAmas and UNWRA are in a symbiotic relationship. UNWRA has no life outside maintaining Arab demands to invade Israel. It in its charter. HAmas has no purpose other than eliminating Israel. The vast majority of UNWRA employees are unionized, and the union boss is Hamas. In Gaza, UNWRA and Hamas and one and the same, so you cannot expect UNWRA and the UN to investigate wrongdoing by itself.

by: Peter from: Australia
July 30, 2014 4:48 PM
Hamas is the enemy of Palestians, not the Israelis

by: RandyAZ from: US
July 30, 2014 3:40 PM
There's a simple end to this:

The civilians of Gaza need to report where Hamas is to Israel and help fight to get these terrorists out.
In Response

by: maithe from: Paris, France
July 30, 2014 7:15 PM
No Randy there is no 'simple end to this' . Unfortunatly....
Civilians of Gaza cannot 'report to Israel' that easy. They are terrified by Hamas. They are hostages, human shield. Yes Hamas uses them as human shield including children, they force them, and if some of them sometimes try to resist they kill them ! Hamas absolutly don't care about human lives. On the contrary they would like a death toll even higher : for their propaganda against Israel. Don't forget: they are terrorists and they kill their own people. They don't want peace. They don't know the meaning of the word Peace.

by: Michael Muniz from: N.J., U.S.A.
July 30, 2014 3:38 PM
Unite Nations, not the U.S.A. should have that power to enforce a two state solution. Hopefully Israel and Palestine can lived in pease.
In Response

by: Yuval Brandstetter
July 31, 2014 1:38 AM
The two state solution was implemented by Britain, empowered by the League of Nations in 1922. Transjordan which never existed before was delineated for the arabs, and west of the Jordan for the Jews. This was ratified by the US comngress. However, once Jordan became independent it invaded the west bank, while Israel, unaided was able to hold it off, but not eliminate the threat. This was corrected in 1967 when Jordan opened fire on Israel, and lost the battle to retreat beyond the river. So the Palestinian sate is Jordan which is hijacked by the Hashmite dynasty, imported from Saudi Arabia by the Brits. Jordan then stripped its citizens who settled on the west Bank, that is the Jewish patrimony, or their citizenship, and left thm stateless to harass Israel.

by: Rudy Haugeneder from: Canada
July 30, 2014 3:28 PM
The Israeli massacre of women and children continues, with the support of international Jewry which, polls show, overwhelming support the attack.

by: pirooz from: iran
July 30, 2014 3:18 PM
where is the un organisation and many many human right organizations? are these organisations shut down during the israeli ghaza war or they are only used to follow the discriminatory cases?
which international justice is responcible for the wildness and rampageousness of israel ? why the blind eyes of arab leaders dont convict the genocide of israel goverment , killing civilians and children in the excuse of hamas and why islam is a bad relgion when the embassy of the us is blown up ?????

by: George Kafantaris
July 30, 2014 3:11 PM
“I’ve taken hundreds of bodies to the morgue. In the beginning, I felt sad for each body I took to the refrigerators, but after taking so many, it’s become normal. I have carried bodies shredded by missiles and tanks shells, children, women, old men and militants.” -- Musa Hassan at Shifa Hospital morgue
Collective indifference sows the seeds of future storms.
And the world does reap what it has sown -- doing just that now from Syria.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 30, 2014 10:35 AM
Behaviors such as what we see from Chile and Peru complicate the issue. Hamas just wakes up and says it won't stop fighting against Israel until its set agenda is met. It keeps shooting at Israel. Is it Israel's fault that Hamas does not have a shield in place to protect its people while it incurs Israel's revenge? Now people who blame Israel for trying to destroy Hamas' aggression should tell the world what they would do if they were in Israel's shoes. Chile is most disappointing with this pointless support to the murderous Hamas.

However, Israel should not relent or balk at this pressure to yield ground to Hamas under any guise or pretense. No one else guarantees Israel's security but Israel itself. Hamas must be disarmed, period. Anything outside of that is no bargain. If Hamas does not want to be seen to surrender, will it then fit Israel to surrender to Hamas? That will be suicidal as well as it is scandalous. God forbid. But the UN agency's mistake here is that it has not made any attempt to evacuate the Gaza refugees to a neutral location away from Gaza.

Can Chile propose to take in more of the Palestinians shipped to Caracas instead of withdrawing just a few people in a diplomatic, counterproductive move, and save more people than play politics with lives? Hence no one should propose for Israel to stop firing at Hamas if it refuses to stop launching rockets/missiles at Israeli civilians - whether the iron dome disrupts it or not. I know that one single ship can take the entire 200,000 refugees to any location if truly any country wants to make a positive move to save lives and end the war when Hamas will not have more human shields to take cover in.

Surely Israel did not put the cache of rockets/arms in the facility of a UN school. If it had been fired from there and Israel's automated system activated a reprisal, someone would only show the picture of what Israel's response has done and no mention would be made of the issue of its cause and effect.
In Response

by: FoolsEverywhere from: US
July 30, 2014 3:18 PM
william li: Here's a better idea - The Palestinians ask China to use their new "space program" to relocate their "country" to Mars. It makes about as much sense as your proposal.

Israel belongs there as much as anyone else does. That strip of land has passed from the hands of one conqueror to the next since the dawn of civilization. Unless you can find some Canaanites, you're not going to find anyone with a legitimate claim to that land. Also, lol @ the notion of Israel leaving the middle east causing world peace.. or even MIDEAST peace. Arabs live to kill - both each other and everyone else. Putin wants to reclaim Ukraine for the Motherland, and North Korea threatens its southern neighbor (not to mention us) with nuclear destruction every six months. Your calling is in comedy, not foreign policy.
In Response

by: william li from: canada
July 30, 2014 12:44 PM
If I was in Isreals shoes, I would ask UN to move my country to US, and leave middle east. 。Israel doesnt belong to there, give the land back to Palestinians.
US loves Israel so much then give one state to it and the whole world will be in peace!

by: Not Again from: Canada
July 30, 2014 9:45 AM
It is a very sad situation, that Hamas is using UN facilities to store projectiles/munitions, this is the third time (in the media in the last few weeks) that such have been found, in addition empty munition containers have also been found. What is even worse, is that it appears that no report or condemnation has followed after each find of munitions, there was one condemnation by the UN Secretary, well after the facts were shown.

UN locations are supposed to be neutral, it is hard to understand how munitions are found in UN facilities and UN staff being Unaware. There was one media report that indicated that rocket fumes could still be smelt in the UN facility after media visited; these situations endanger all at a facility. In most private sector orgs, such a flagrant violations of rules, so many times, would bring the immediate dismissal of those running the facility, but not in the UN, which makes you wonder if the UN is fully aware of the sit and just looks the other way, or pretends it is not happening.

If rockets are stored, rockets are used nearby from where they are stored, or even from the facility (the one media report about rocket fumes inside) which places civilians at very serious risk. Hamas runs Gaza, therefore they are the party responsible for these grave contraventions. The protection of neutrality is lost if such contravention occurs and fire suppression activities will take place.

The situation shows, that Hamas is using civilians as shields, by firing from civilian facilities, and the new picture emerging is that Hamas even does not respect the neutrality of UN facilities. This is not unique to Gaza, in most other conflicts involving terrorists such contraventions have taken place.
All in all it is a very sad and very bad situation for civilians; let us hope that a ceasefire comes about soon.
In Response

by: FoolsEverywhere from: US
July 30, 2014 3:23 PM
As long as Hamas is around, there'll continue to be war. It's a joke to think that an organization that was ALWAYS considered terrorists by the world community and wasn't even invited to the table back in the 90s for that very reason (back when world leaders weren't completely drooling with anti-Israeli venom) could ever be part of a legitimate government. The peace efforts Israel has made have only lead to a bolder, more well equipped terror threat, hence the blockade. Hamas was never interested in governing or leading the Palestinian people. They're interested in one thing - killing jews.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 30, 2014 1:32 PM
Actually the UN gives full backing to everything Hamas is doing out there. Its staffers will not speak out when Hamas launches attack from their facility, but when Israel responds by returning fire, the UN will be the first to display the picture to the whole world to see Israel as the aggressor. Essentially it can be said that the UN is not neutral, it has not once called Hamas to stop the war that it started; it is anti-Israel and is sustaining Hamas aggression which both uses its facilities as storeroom for munition as well use human shield in those facilities to shoot at Israeli civilians. What Israel needs do right now is close its eyes to everything and everyone, what they will say, go in there and level everything and pave the way to restart a new Gaza or a new Palestinian settlement after Hamas has been removed.
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