At least 15 people were killed during shelling of a shelter at a UN-run school in northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, bringing the Palestinian death toll in the conflict to more than 760, Reuters reported.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced his horror at the attack on the school at Beit Hanoun. “Many have been killed – including women and children, as well as UN staff,” he said in a statement. “Circumstances are still unclear. I strongly condemn this act.”
The Israeli military said it was investigating the incident, the report said.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said there was a chance the school had been hit by stray Hamas rockets. “It could be errant fire from the IDF or rockets landing from Gaza terrorists but we still don’t know, there’s still a question mark,” he told Reuters TV.
The UN chief later arrived in Cairo where he was expected to meet US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been trying to broker an elusive truce.
Kerry’s spokesman said the school attack incident “underscores the need to end the violence”.
“Gaps remain between the parties,” a senior US official was quoted as saying, adding that Kerry wouldn’t stay “for an indefinite amount of time”.
The UN relief agency said it had tried in vain to arrange an evacuation of civilians from the school with the Israeli army, and noted reports of Hamas rockets falling in the area at the same time.
About 200 people were wounded in the latest attack, marking the fourth time that a UN facility has been hit since Israel launched operations on July 8 to counter rocket strikes from the Islamist group Hamas, the BBC reported, citing the Gaza health ministry.
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