Mel Frykberg, The Electronic Intifada, 6 January 2009
|The al-Daya family Gaza City home after it was completely destroyed in an Israeli strike, killing several family members inside, 6 January 2009. (Mohamed Al-Zanon/MaanImages)|
RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) – At least 42 Palestinians sheltering in a UN school in the Jabaliya refugee camp near Gaza City were killed Tuesday afternoon after two Israeli tank shells exploded outside the school.
Hundreds of terrified Palestinians, desperately trying to escape the bombing, had sought shelter there assuming that a clearly marked school would not be targeted. Palestinian sources reported that the school was one of 26 residential buildings hit Tuesday.
Another UN facility, the al-Shouka School in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, was bombarded Monday night.
The UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) said that prior to the current fighting it had given the Israeli authorities the GPS co-ordinates of all its installations in Gaza, including the schools. The organization has demanded an explanation from Israel, and called for an investigation.
“There’s nowhere safe in Gaza. Everyone here is terrorized and traumatized,” said John Ging, the UN head in Gaza. He blamed the international community for allowing the violence to continue.
“I am appealing to political leaders here and in the region and the world to get their act together and stop this,” he said, speaking at Gaza’s largest hospital. “They are responsible for these deaths.”
Earlier Tuesday another 13 Palestinians were killed in the Zeitoun suburb of Gaza City when their apartment building collapsed after sustaining a direct hit. And at least 30 Palestinians were killed as Israeli warships shelled targets in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza and the al-Bureij refugee camp near Gaza city.
These latest attacks bring the Palestinian death toll to nearly 600 on day 11 of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead.
Meanwhile the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has declared a “full-blown humanitarian crisis” in Gaza, said it is investigating reports that a Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulance station in Jabaliya refugee camp was targeted Monday night.
In an earlier attack last Friday, the ICRC reported that two clearly marked ambulance medics from the PRCS, evacuating the dead and wounded from an earlier Israeli attack, were targeted by Israeli army fire.
The paramedics were wearing fluorescent jackets and their ambulances had flashing lights visible from a considerable distance.
“I have no doubt that one missile was aimed at us. I do not know for certain whether it was meant to kill us or warn us to keep away, but it was definitely aimed in our direction,” said Palestinian ambulance driver Khaled Abu Saada.
Sammy Hassan, a spokesperson from al-Shifa Hospital, said in the last week that four ambulance personnel had been killed in Israeli strikes. “One was a doctor and the other three were medics. We are very worried about our ambulance staff,” Hassan told IPS.
Israel reported Tuesday it had killed Ayman Siam, the head of Hamas’s rocket unit and commander of the group’s artillery forces, in an aerial attack on Jabaliya.
Meanwhile, Israel’s northern border with Lebanon remains tense following Shia resistance organization Hizballah’s declaration of a state of high alert. The group says it fears Israel might use the war in the south to launch an attack on Lebanon.
Israel is still refusing to allow foreign media into Gaza to report on the war. Following a petition by the Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Israel to the Israeli high court, the Israeli government said on 1 January it would allow a small group of eight journalists to enter Gaza when the crossings opened.
According to a Palestinian media report, Palestinian journalist Khader Shahin working for Iranian World TV was arrested in Jerusalem Tuesday and is currently being investigated for spreading “state secrets.”
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