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Middle East

Child killed, dozens injured during 7-hour Gaza ‘ceasefire’

© AFP I Said Khatib

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-08-04

Despite the promise of a seven-hour ceasefire in parts of Gaza on Monday, a child was killed and 30 others wounded during a strike on a refugee camp in Gaza City, according to local medics.

Local witnesses and several journalists based at a nearby hotel reported hearing a missile fired from a warplane before it crashed into a three-story house in the Shati refugee camp. The strike killed an eight-year-old girl, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

A journalist in Gaza City said the strike hit at 0706 GMT, just six minutes into the ceasefire. The Israeli army said it was looking into the incident but gave no further comment.

Earlier on Monday, the Israeli army announced a unilateral seven-hour halt to firing, to begin at 0700 GMT. The truce was called to ease the entry of humanitarian aid into the Palestinian strip.

It comes after world powers fiercely condemned a strike on a UN-run school in Gaza which left dead 10 Palestinians, as Israel was pulling some of its troops from the Palestinian enclave.

The Israeli army said the seven-hour "humanitarian window" would be from 10am to 5pm (0700-1400 GMT) in all of the Palestinian territory except the area east of the southern city Rafah, where ground forces have intensified assaults after three Israeli soldiers died in a Hamas ambush on Friday.

A senior Israeli military official said Israeli troops would respond if they came under attack during the truce, the sixth Israel has declared since the confrontation began on July 8.

"If the truce is breached, the military will return fire during the declared duration of the truce," the official said.

The Israeli army also said that residents of Abasan al Kabira and Abasan al Saghira, two villages east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, could return home.

The announcement, made first to Palestinian media, was met with suspicion from Gaza's dominant Hamas Islamists, whose spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called on Gazans to proceed with caution.

"The unilateral ceasefire announced by Israel is an attempt to divert the attention from Israeli massacres," he said.

Global outrage

The humanitarian ceasefire followed unusually strong censure from Washington at the Israeli shelling of a UN-run shelter on Sunday that killed 10 people.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington was "appalled" by the attack on the school, which was housing 3,000 displaced Palestinians, and called for a "full and prompt" investigation.

"Israel must do more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties," she said.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the attack "a moral outrage and a criminal act".

French President François Hollande said the bombing of the school was "unacceptable" and backed calls by Ban "to ask that those responsible for this violation of international law answer for their actions". He did not say who he considered responsible.

In a statement early on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "Israel does not aim its fire at civilians and is sorry for any attack that unintentionally hits civilians." He did not directly address the attack on the school.

Israeli strikes on Gaza  continued early on Monday, killing 11 people, including an Islamic Jihad commander.

Gaza officials say 1,788 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed and more than a quarter of the impoverished enclave's 1.8 million residents displaced. As many as 3,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed or damaged.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and Reuters)

Israel 'reassessing its options'


Date created : 2014-08-04


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