UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says “this madness must stop” and describes the strike outside a UN school in Rafah, Gaza as a “moral outrage and a criminal act” as he calls for an end to fighting.
Warning: this video contains distressing images.
In a statement, Ban Ki-moon said the attack outside a United Nations (UN)-run school which killed at least 10 people, including six children, and injured around 30 others was “yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law”.
The school and surrounding area in Rafah, Gaza, was sheltering 3,000 displaced people.
The UN Secretary General added: “Israel Defense Forces have been repeatedly informed of the location of these sites. This attack, along with other breaches of international law, must be swiftly investigated and those responsible held accountable. It is a moral outrage and a criminal act.”
People rushing to the scene early on Sunday saw children lying dead on the ground. Witnesses said a missile launched by an aircraft struck the entrance to the school. The Israeli military said it was looking into the circumstances and Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told Channel 4 News the attack was a “legitimate target” because it took out Hamas militants. He said further investigation was needed to find out how civilians were hit.
Last Wednesday, at least 15 Palestinians sheltering in another UN-run school in Jabaliya refugee camp were killed. The UN said it appeared that Israeli artillery had hit the building. The Israeli military said gunmen had fired mortar bombs from near the school and it shot back in response.
The latest exchanges came after Israel’s military said that an officer it feared had been captured by Hamas had now been confirmed dead. Hadar Goldin went missing on Friday near Rafah but it has now been confirmed that he died in clashes on Friday.
Confirmation of Lt Goldin’s death means 66 Israelis have now died in the fighting, all but two of them soldiers. A Thai worker in Israel also died.
Earlier on Sunday, Israeli shelling on several locations in Gaza killed at least 30 people and Palestinian officials said the death toll for the fighting over almost the whole of the last month had risen to 1,726, most of them civilians.
The Israeli military said it was close to completing its target of destroying the tunnels which extend into Israel, and withdrew its troops from some areas in Gaza overnight. But, as the latest strike shows, the violence is far from over.
While a delegation from the Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have arrived in Cairo for indirect peace talks, which will be brokered by US and Egyptian officials, the Israeli team pulled out and will not be attending.