UK & World News
UN Says Gaza School Attack A 'Criminal Act'
The United Nations chief has strongly condemned a third deadly attack on a UN school sheltering Palestinians, saying Israel was "repeatedly informed of the location of these sites".
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described Sunday's apparent Israeli airstrike on the school in the southern Gazan town of Rafah as a "moral outrage and a criminal act".
He said it was a "gross violation of international humanitarian law," and called for those responsible to be held accountable.
The attack left 10 civilians dead and wounded another 30, bringing the total Palestinian death toll to more than 1,770.
Israel's military confirmed it had fired on a terrorist target in the vicinity of the school and was "reviewing the consequences of this strike".
Meanwhile Israeli army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner announced the bulk of ground troops had now pulled out of Gaza.
He said the military had caused "substantial damage" to a network of tunnels, which Israel cited as justification for expanding its operation in the territory to include a ground offensive.
Lt. Col Lerner emphasised, however, that the operation was not over.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had warned he was prepared to continue the offensive for as long as it took to return his citizens to safety.
At least 30 Palestinians were killed in multiple strikes on Sunday, although it was the attack on the UN-run school that was the focus of international condemnation.
It came just days after more than a dozen Palestinians died in an attack on a school-turned-shelter in Jabalya. Another 19 people died at a school in Beit Hanoun last week.
The United States said it was "appalled" by the latest reports of a "disgraceful shelling" of UN school.
While not directly attributing blame, the State Department called on Israel to do more to "meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties".
Meanwhile British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he had discussed the incident with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni by phone.
In a statement Mr Hammond said that while the facts were not clear he was "appalled at reports of further civilian casualties in the vicinity of a UN-run school".
Israel launched its aerial offensive on July 8 with the declared aim of ending "persistent" rocket fire by militants.
It subsequently sent in ground troops, shifting the focus of the operation to the destruction of the complex system of cross-border tunnels which it said were used by Hamas to infiltrate the country.
Israel had previously reported that the militants had used one such tunnel to kidnap an Israeli soldier.
It later confirmed that Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin was killed in combat, prompting Hamas to accuse Israel of issuing misleading reports.
A funeral was held for the 23-year-old soldier in the Israeli town of Kfar Saba on Sunday.
His suspected abduction led to the collapse of an internationally-brokered truce, with hopes for a halt in fighting now in tatters.
Israel shunned ceasefire talks in Cairo on Sunday, attended by Egyptian and Palestinian negotiators, as Hamas rockets continued to be fired from Gaza.
During the weeks-long conflict, 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed.