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AP: UN shelter shelled; more than 140,000 displaced

The United Nations today confirmed “multiple dead and injured” at its shelter in Beit Hanoun, where Gazan families had sought refuge from non-stop Israeli shelling that has killed more than 700 Palestinians, most of them civilians.

Chris Gunness, a spokesperson for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine refugees, said via Twitter that the agency had earlier today passed the shelter’s “precise coordinates” to the Israeli military. Fearing an attack, UNRWA had “tried to coordinate with the Israeli army a window for civilians to leave,” but “it was never granted,” said Gunness.

As reported by AP, the attack comes just hours after UNRWA announced more than 140,000 Palestinians had sought shelter at its facilities from the ongoing Israeli bombardment. That number, based on headcounts at 83 UNRWA facilities, does not include Palestinians forced to seek shelter elsewhere, including on the grounds of Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital. UNRWA also reports that one Palestinian child has been killed in Gaza every hour for the past two days.

With the percentage of displaced likely approaching 10 percent of Gaza’s population – this in a territory where refugees are already the majority – humanitarian workers are calling the impact of “Operation Protective Edge” unprecedented. Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, told +972 that Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead,” which was launched in December 2008 and caused the deaths of more than 1,400 Palestinians, was “a joke compared to this,” referring to the now 18-day Israeli assault by air, sea, and land.

A Palestinian girl from the Al-Tom family draws on a chalk board at UNRWA's Remal Elementary School in Gaza City which is used as a temporary shelter for Palestinians fleeing the northern Gaza Strip,  July 13, 2014. (photo: ActiveStills)

A Palestinian girl from the Al-Tom family draws on a chalk board at UNRWA’s Remal Elementary School in Gaza City which is used as a temporary shelter for Palestinians fleeing the northern Gaza Strip, July 13, 2014. (photo: ActiveStills)

As news of the Beit Hanoun attack broke, Israel showed no sign of scaling back its ground invasion or airstrikes. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said yesterday that Israeli troops are “preparing for the next stages of battle once the tunnels have been taken care of.”

As the Palestinian death toll continues to rise, calls for a ceasefire are mounting, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry signaling this morning that “some progress” toward the goal had been made. Meanwhile, the U.S. yesterday was the only member of the UN’s Human Rights Council to vote against a war crimes inquiry into Israel’s actions in Gaza, which council head Navi Pillay said indicate a “strong possibility” that Israel has fallen afoul of international humanitarian law. Pillay cited attacks on civilian homes and hospitals, which have so far killed dozens of children.

Although the identities of the dead in Beit Hanoun have yet to be confirmed, with more than 40 percent of Gaza’s population under the age of 15, thousands of children are hunkered down in the UN shelters.

Today’s attack comes as Israel’s outgoing president, Shimon Peres, formally hands over his post to Reuven Rivlin. Peres oversaw Israel’s “Operation Grapes of Wrath,” the 1996 military campaign over Lebanon, which included the bombing of a UN civilian shelter in Qana. The Qana Massacre, as it came to be known, left 106 dead and prompted UN investigators to conclude that it was “unlikely” Israel had acted in error.

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    COMMENTS

    1. bright lights

      More likely it was Hamas rockets that fell short.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gearoid

        It’s truly impressive how fast this talking point managed to get spread to all the willing shills.

        There is no evidence it was Hamas rockets, and the IDF admits to firing mortars at the compound. They claim they were fired on by Hamas fighters, but eyewitnesses say there was no “resistance” nearby at all.

        Reply to Comment
        • Sonnenuhr

          Chris Guiness of UNWRA has stated that Hamas rockets have been landing within Beit Hanoun, a fact that Samer has purposely omitted in his propaganda piece.

          Reply to Comment
    2. Craig Vale

      Nothing short of wanton murder committed by the IDF with Bibi’s blessing. Let’s see if the Hague can muster the courage to try Netanyahu for war crimes against humanity. How long will the world sit by and swallow the lies of Bibi and the nation he represents. The Hasbaran spinmeisters are already at work claiming the UN compound was hit with stray Hamas rockets. Repugnant murderers lean back in their comfy chairs in the Knesset and deny everything.

      Reply to Comment
      • CigarButNoNice

        The Islamic imperialist lackeys at the Hague will have their work cut out for them, as even the dovish Tzipi Livni has told them to stick their threats where the sun don’t shine.

        I wonder why the repugnant murderers of Hamas sequester themselves in safe bunkers while allocating no funds for building bomb shelters for the kids. Oh wait, all the cement has been used for constructing tunnels with the purpose of repeating Beslan, so there’s none left for civilian shelters. But no matter, the killed and wounded can be used as photo-ops for an Islam-sympathizing worldwide media that will surely lap them up…

        Reply to Comment
        • Reza Lustig

          “They made us do it! They made us do it!”

          That’s all we ever hear from you.

          Reply to Comment
          • CigarButNoNice

            And all we ever hear from *you* is that the Arab colonists do nothing but react to Jewish “oppression,” as if they were mere chemical compounds blindly following deterministic laws. Somehow the idea that they might be driven by human imperialistic ambitions is out of the question.

            There’s a a name for this way of thinking: The soft bigotry of low expectations. Ironically, it’s me who respects the Arabs as human beings in that department.

            Reply to Comment
          • Average American

            Oh, it’s the Arabs who are colonists! Oh man that’s too funny. Somehow the idea that Israel might be driven by human imperialistic ambitions, as defined and prescribed by Israel’s Zionist “Land Of Israel” charter, is out of the question. By the way, The Land Of Israel is alot bigger than the current State of Israel. Israel was created to expand.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kiwi

            Demented soul. Likes to repeat himself endlessly. Or is he full of hot air and propaganda?

            Yep.

            Reply to Comment
          • Average American

            Oh, I see you’re not familiar with the formation of Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kiwi

            I am familiar with demented people who constantly repeat lies.

            People like you who hope to fool people who don’t know history.

            Reply to Comment
    3. JohnW

      Civilians die in ALL wars but somehow some people literally become energised when civilians die in wars that Israel fights to defend it’s civilians from rocket fire shot by Islamo-Fascists.

      Here, read how many civilians died in Afghanistan in a war which the civilized armies of NATO fight Islamo-Fascists:

      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_casualties_in_the_War_in_Afghanistan_(2001–present)#Civilian_casualties_.282001.E2.80.932003.29

      But somehow we don’t hear too much about the body counts about that on CNN or the BBC and the corridors of the UN.

      Hypocrisy anyone? Oh and what about what the Arabs themselves do to each other in Syria and Iraq? No wailing from them about that, huh? Oops.

      Reply to Comment
      • JohnW

        Here, read some more about how NATO caused civilian casualties in Yugoslavia after they embarked on their bombing campaign against Serbia.

        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_casualties_during_Operation_Allied_Force#5_April_1999:_Bombing_of_Aleksinac

        Where was the obsessive real time body count then as events were unfolding?

        I repeat: civilians die in all wars. But somehow civilians who die in wars which Israel fights seem to be a greater crime in the minds of some. Why is that?

        Reply to Comment
        • Reza Lustig

          I’ve got news for you: the majority of the left (apart from Dissent magazine, and other cruise missile leftists) was against the “intervention” in Yugoslavia, because they saw it as an excuse for the West to break up Yugoslavia. You used a poor example.

          You’ve probably been told before, and you think we’re lying, but I’ll tell you again; Israel’s manipulative rhetoric and complete refusal to accept responsibility for innocent deaths, in spite of the needless carnage it causes in the name of its’ “right to self-defense,” is what turns people off. That, and the majority of people fortunately have an instinct to sympathize with the underdog and dislike bullies (especially bullies who try to make people see them as the victim).

          Reply to Comment
    4. Sonnenuhr

      The UN located 300 people in a school in the middle of a zone used by Hamas to fire rockets at Israel.

      The UN admits it was told to evacuate the school. Israel told them to leave between 10 am and 2pm because it intended to target rockets from the area being fired at Israel. The Times of Israel reports that Hamas prevented the evacuation and fired rockets at Israel, some of which fell short.

      At 2.50 pm the incident happened when the school grounds were hit by an ordinance.

      The IDF reports that out of 9 mortars fired at the rocket launchers one went off target. It could have hit the school yard. The school was not the target.

      The IDF also states that a Hamas rocket slammed into the school yard. Chris McGinnis of UNWRA confirms that Hamas rockets were falling in the immediate vicinity of the school.

      The cause of the tragedy is Hamas. It was committing a war crime shooting missiles at Israeli citizens and accidentally hit their own citizens who they were using as human shields. The UN enabled the tragedy by placing the people at risk and failing to evacuate them.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Average American

      Preparing for next stages of “battle”? What a joke. It’s not a battle, it’s a lawn mower. It’s the regional supermilitary mowing people down. Israel is glorifying itself about it as expected, displaying every political characteristic of ultra-nationalism and fascism.

      Reply to Comment
      • JohnW

        Israel is no different than anyone else in a similar situation. It has been under sustained attack by Islamo-Fascists and it is doing whatever is necessary to stop them in their tracks.

        That’s what NATO did in Afghanistan and even in Serbia where it was defending Muslims. And NATO killed even more civilians in those places. That’s war. It stinks. But war is what Islamo-Fascists want.

        Reply to Comment
        • JohnW

          “And in case you were ever going to use the “what would you do” talking point:”

          We know already what they would do so I wasn’t going to bring that up. But since you did …

          At the mere whiff of danger to themselves, when a rocket fell near the airport and deatroyed a house, they could not run fast enough for cover. We on the other hand, haven’t got that luxury. We need to stay and teach the bastards lessons that will persuade them not to do it again.

          What a lot of BS.

          The situation of the African Americans was nothing like the situation of the West Bank Arabs.

          Historically, African Americans were abducted mostly by Arab slavers and were brought to America and were mistreated.

          Arabs on the other hand chose the path of war against Jewish Palestinians, as early as 100 years ago (nearly) and were defeated fairly and squarely in a war of their own making.

          You guys are the ones who are comparing apples with oranges in order to persuade as many African Americans as possible to side with the Arabs.

          Now back to the topic. In wars that NATO fought in Afghanistan and Serbia, they killed even more civilians than Israel did in Gaza. War is imprecise and mistakes are made. Particularly when Islamo-Fascists choose to use civilian locations, such as schools, hospitals and mosques, to store their weapons, which is a war crime!

          But hey Reza, why would someone like you want to let the facts stand in the way of your “good” story?

          Reply to Comment
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