Israel’s army said on Sunday it was redeploying along the Gaza border for a “new phase” of an operation aimed to stopping rocket fire toward Israel, shortly after a United Nations school in the Gaza strip was hit by an Israeli airstrike.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the shelling of the U.N. school, calling it “a moral outrage and a criminal act,” according to Agence France-Presse.
“This madness must stop,” Ban said through his spokesman after at least 10 people were killed when a shell hit outside a U.N. school in Rafah crowded with Palestinian refugees.
The United States said it was “appalled” by the shelling of the school and called for a “full and prompt” investigation.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki did not say which side was responsible for the attack that left at least 10 dead, but stressed that “Israel must do more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties.”
Later on Sunday, Israel confirmed it had fired on a target near the Gaza school.
Meanwhile in Gaza, 1,766 Palestinians have been killed and another 9,320 wounded since the start of the Israeli offensive, said a Palestinian emergency services spokesperson.
The operation by Israel to subdue Hamas militants in the Gaza strip is now in its 27th day.
Figures released by the U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA, gave a total of 1,525 dead, with 84 percent of them civilians.
On the Israeli side, 66 have been killed, including 64 soldiers, all of whom have died since the ground offensive began.
The military spokesman said that some military presence on the ground had been scaled back.
“We have indeed scaled down some of the presence and indeed urged Palestinians in certain neighborhoods to come back to their homes,” said Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, according to the Associated Press.
Several Israeli tanks and other vehicles were seen leaving Gaza a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested troops would reassess operations after completing the demolition of Hamas tunnels under the border. Security officials said the tunnel mission was winding down and Israel would soon be taking its troops out of the strip.
In Gaza, meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes and tank shelling continued. Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said at least 10 people were killed and 35 wounded after the strike near the boys’ school in Rafah.
Robert Turner, the director of operations for the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza, said preliminary findings indicated the blast was an Israeli airstrike near the school, which had been providing shelter for some 3,000 people. He said the strike killed at least one U.N. staffer.
“The locations of all these installations have been passed to the Israeli military multiple times,” Turner said. “They know where these shelters are. How this continues to happen, I have no idea. I have no words for it. I don’t understand it.”
The Israeli military said they were investigating.
Earlier on Sunday, seven were announced killed in an Israeli attack on a United Nations school in Gaza/.
A missile launched by an aircraft struck the entrance to the school in the town of Rafah south of Gaza, the sources told Reuters news agency.
Hundreds of Palestinians in the area, where the Israeli military said it has been battling Hamas fighters, had been sheltering in the school.
(With the Associated Press and Reuters)SHOW MORE