UK & World News

  • 31 July 2014, 4:01

Israel Strikes Gaza Market During Partial Truce

At least 17 people have been killed and more than 200 wounded in an Israeli strike on a market, Palestinian officials say, shortly after Israel said it was observing a four-hour humanitarian ceasefire.

Medical officials said the strike hit a busy market in the Shejaiza neighbourhood between Gaza City and the Israeli border.

Pictures from the scene showed limp, lifeless bodies lying in pools of petrol and mud.

The dead included several children and a Palestinian journalist wearing a press vest.

At least 110 people were killed across Gaza on Wednesday, bringing the total Palestinian death toll to more than 1,350.

On the Israeli side, 56 soldiers, two Israelis and a Thai national have died since the start of the offensive on July 8.

That includes three soldiers who Israel said were killed in a booby-trapped house in Gaza.

Israel had said it would halt assaults in areas of Gaza where troops were not "currently operating" until 7pm local time (5pm UK time).

Hamas denounced the truce as a publicity stunt in the wake of a deadly attack on a UN-run school, and continued firing rockets into Israel.

The school in Jebalya refugee camp, where some 3,300 Palestinians were sheltering, was hit around dawn.

At least 19 people, including children, were killed, many of them as they slept.

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said it told Israel "17 times" the building was being used by refugees, although it also confirmed other schools had been used to store weapons. The UNRWA chief Pierre Krahenbuhl said the attack violated international law.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack as "unjustifiable," saying there was "nothing more shameful than attacking sleeping children."

The United States, meanwhile, offered its sharpest criticism of the conflict yet, saying it was "extremely concerned" that Palestinians seeking refuge in shelters were not safe, although it did not specify who was responsible.

Jebalya wasthe second UN-run school to be hit in the past week, with a complex in Beit Hanounstruck last Thursday, killing at least 15 people.

Israeli Defence Forces Spokesman Lt Colonel Peter Lerner told Sky News Israel was still investigating the attack.

But he said Hamas militants near the school were known to have fired mortars at soldiers before the school was hit, and that there was an exchange of fire.

On the 23rd day of the conflict, Israeli TV said progress was being made to achieve a peace deal. An Israeli delegation has now arrived in Egypt for discussions.

Israel says its ongoing operation is meant to stop Hamas rocket fire and demolish a sophisticated network of tunnels.

More than 2,600 missiles have been fired from Gaza in the past three weeks, the Israeli army said.

Meanwhile, the leader of Hamas' military wing, Mohammed Deif, issued a rare statement, saying there will be no end to the fighting until the blockade of Gaza is lifted.

According to UNRWA, about 10% of Palestinians - more than 200,000 people - have been displaced by fighting.

The figure is triple that seen at the peak of the 2008/9 conflict, with the organisation warning all of its camps are now full.

UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness told Sky News the agency is at "breaking point."

Justine Greening, the international development secretary, described the situation as "dire", as the UK pledged an extra 3m to provide a month of emergency food for more than 300,000 people.

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