Shelling near U.N. shelter draws strong condemnation from U.N., U.S.

Map from CNN story

Map from CNN story

Jerusalem (CNN) — The United States and the United Nations used the strongest language yet in condemning the latest strike on a U.N.-run shelter in Gaza, with Washington calling the attack “disgraceful.”

At least nine people at the school, which was being used as a shelter for about 3,000 people, were killed in the shelling.

The Israel Defense Forces said that it targeted three Palestinian Islamic Jihad members riding a motorcycle in the vicinity of the school.

The IDF said it is reviewing the consequences of the strike but didn’t say if the suspected militants were hit.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a written statement that the attack was “yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law.”

He demanded a swift investigation into the attack, in which there was an explosion just outside the main gate of the school.

The United States, in a statement issued by the State Department, said it was “appalled.”

“We once again stress that Israel must do more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a written statement. “The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians.”

An IDF spokesman reiterated Israel’s point that militants try to use places where civilians congregate as cover.

“Hamas made a special effort during the past few weeks to fire from U.N. facilities,” Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz told CNN.

Ban said the incident was “a moral outrage and a criminal act.”

Thousands of Gaza residents had flocked to the shelter to escape weeks of violence — only to encounter more bloodshed.

“The dead and wounded in Rafah are still under the rubble and in the streets,” Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Ashraf el-Qedra said earlier.

Chris Gunness, spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, tweeted that the school was sheltering almost 3,000 internally displaced people.

The U.N said nine people were killed, while the Palestinian Health Ministry put the figure at 10. At least 27 people were wounded

At least six other U.N.-run shelters in schools in Gaza have been directly pounded by violence in the past month.

“We vigorously condemn today’s Israeli strike and find it incomprehensible that such violence has happened again, only four days since we carried out dead and wounded civilians who had sought refuge in a UN installation,” said a joint statement from UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl and director of operations Robert Turner.

Throughout Gaza, the death toll continues to mount every day.

More than 1,800 people have been killed in Gaza since the current Israel-Hamas conflict began July 8, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza said.

And in the past month, at least 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel have been killed.

Humanitarian disaster

Palestinian officials described a public health crisis because of the lack of water, sanitation and primary health care.

Surgeons in Gaza have reported working 20-hour shifts to try to keep up with a flood of residents wounded by attacks. And the medical supplies are dwindling.

A pair of trucks from the International Committee of the Red Cross tried to enter Gaza to deliver emergency aid kits and blood — but had to turn away due to security concerns, ICRC spokeswoman Cecilia Goin said Sunday.

“The trucks are carrying a portion of ICRC’s 5,000 home destruction kits … for those whose homes have been completely destroyed or partially destroyed, and 3,000 units of blood,” Goin said.

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