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Israel Admits Killing 3 Palestinian Girls in Gaza

The Israeli military has admitted that one of its tanks killed three daughters of a Palestinian doctor during the Gaza war.

The military said Wednesday its investigation found that two tank shells were fired at the doctor's home last month, after Israeli forces spotted "suspicious figures" believed to be helping Hamas snipers from the building's upper level.

The girls' father, Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish, once worked in an Israeli hospital. He says his niece also was killed in the attack.

Israel's findings are the first to be released from several investigations into civilian deaths that happened during the three-week offensive against the Hamas militant group.

More than 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died in the violence.

The United Nations Development Program said today that an initial survey of the war's aftermath shows that more than 14,000 homes were partially damaged or destroyed.

The agency estimates that 600,000 tons of rubble have to be removed to protect the lives of Palestinians. It says the rubble is mixed with poisonous materials and, possibly, unexploded ordnance.

The U.N. has appealed to the international community for about $613 million to help rebuild Gaza.

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) accused Hamas police today of seizing thousands of blankets and hundreds of parcels of food meant for civilians in Gaza.

Hamas Welfare Minister Ahmed Kurd in turn accused the U.N. of giving the aid to local groups with a political agenda.

Hamas says it is ready to commit to a truce with Israel for at least a year, in exchange for the full opening of Gaza's borders.

The two sides stopped major combat two weeks ago, but sporadic attacks continue. Hamas is urging all Palestinian factions to "respect the national consensus" on the cease-fire.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.