Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN designated shelter in Gaza. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.These are the words of UNRWA Commissioner-General, Pierre Krähenbühl after the shelling of another UN School being used to house refugees.
At least 19 Palestinians were killed and about 90 injured early on Wednesday when a UN school sheltering displaced people was hit by shells during a second night of relentless bombardment that followed an Israeli warning of a protracted military campaign.
Pierre Krahenbuhl, commissioner-general of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, condemned “in in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces”.
The Commissioner-Generals powerful statement in whole:
Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN designated shelter in Gaza. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.At the same time these war crimes continue, more and more evidence comes out that the justification for the attacks was manufactured:
We have visited the site and gathered evidence. We have analysed fragments, examined craters and other damage. Our initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery that hit our school, in which 3,300 people had sought refuge. We believe there were at least three impacts. It is too early to give a confirmed official death toll. But we know that there were multiple civilian deaths and injuries including of women and children and the UNRWA guard who was trying to protect the site. These are people who were instructed to leave their homes by the Israeli army.
The precise location of the Jabalia Elementary Girls School and the fact that it was housing thousands of internally displaced people was communicated to the Israeli army seventeen times, to ensure its protection; the last being at ten to nine last night, just hours before the fatal shelling.
I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces.
This is the sixth time that one of our schools has been struck. Our staff, the very people leading the humanitarian response are being killed. Our shelters are overflowing. Tens of thousands may soon be stranded in the streets of Gaza, without food, water and shelter if attacks on these areas continue.
We have moved beyond the realm of humanitarian action alone. We are in the realm of accountability. I call on the international community to take deliberate international political action to put an immediate end to the continuing carnage.
An Israeli intelligence officer who works in the West Bank has told a Buzzfeed reporter that the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens on June 12 - which sparked the renewed conflict in Gaza - may not have been order by Hamas. The officer spoke under condition of anonymity, and his identity cannot be confirmed by the Guardian.The Guardian also has a story detailing the impacts of the strike on Gaza's only power plant:
“That announcement was premature,” the intelligence officer said. “If there was an order, from any of the senior Hamas leadership in Gaza or abroad, this would be an easier case to investigate. We would have that intelligence data. But there is no data, so we have come to conclude that these men were acting on their own.”
The power plant is finished," said its director, Mohammed al-Sharif, signalling a new crisis for Gaza's 1.8 million people, who were already enduring power cuts of more than 20 hours a day.
Amnesty International said the crippling of the power station amounted to "collective punishment of Palestinians". The strike on the plant will worsen already severe problems with Gaza's water supply, sewage treatment and power supplies to medical facilities.
"We need at least one year to repair the power plant, the turbines, the fuel tanks and the control room," said Fathi Sheik Khalil of the Gaza energy authority. "Everything was burned." He said crew members who had been trapped by the fire for several hours were evacuated.
6:56 AM PT: From the Guardlian live-blog on the Gaza events:
Shimon Peres, who was Israel’s president until earlier this month, has said the war in the Gaza Strip has been exhausted and that a way had to be found to stop it, Israel Radio reported.8:42 AM PT:
A diplomatic resolution of the conflict should include restoring the authority of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to the Gaza Strip, he added.
Peres, who at 91 has lived through every war fought by the State of Israel, is an influential voice in Israeli public opinion, though he was a regular irritant to prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his term as president.
http://www.theguardian.com/...8:45 AM PT:
Gaza health officials say 15 people have been killed and more than 150 wounded by an Israeli airstrike in a crowded shopping area, the AP reports:
The Israeli military had no immediate comment.
Gaza health ministry official Ashraf al-Kidra says the area was busy Wednesday because residents thought a cease-fire was in place. The Palestinian Red Crescent confirmed the death toll.
Israel had earlier announced a “humanitarian window” in certain parts of the territory. It said it would not halt fire in other areas, including in Shijaiyah, where the strike took place.
Gaza militants had fired several rockets at Israel earlier.
Absolutely horrific scenes from strike on Shujiyea market.More than 160 people injured. More than 15 dead. They appear to have been shopping10:02 AM PT:
— Nick Schifrin (@nickschifrin) July 30, 2014
Baby girl delivered from her dead mother’s body has died. Shimah was five days old and buried next to her mum. #Gaza pic.twitter.com/LfEBR4AK3T
— Ian Pannell (@BBCiPannell) July 30, 2014
The UN secretary general has contradicted the US assertion that a further investigation is needed to determine who is responsible for the Wednesday attack on the UN school in Jabaliya.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said “all available evidence points to Israeli artillery as the cause” of the pre-dawn attack, and he pointedly noted that Israeli military authorities had received the coordinates of the school from the United Nations 17 times, including on Tuesday night. The Associated Press reports:
Ban condemned the attack as “outrageous” and “unjustifiable,” and demanded an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas.
“Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children,” Ban said on his arrival in San Jose, Costa Rica. “I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms.”
11:33 AM PT: White House Statement:
The United States condemns the shelling of a UNRWA school in Gaza, which reportedly killed and injured innocent Palestinians – including children – and UN humanitarian workers. We are extremely concerned that thousands of internally displaced Palestinians who have been called on by the Israeli military to evacuate their homes are not safe in UN designated shelters in Gaza. We also condemn those responsible for hiding weapons in United Nations facilities in Gaza. All of these actions, and similar ones earlier in the conflict, are inconsistent with the UN’s neutrality. This violence underscores the need to achieve a cease-fire as soon as possible.
Note that Israeli tanks appear to have been involved in the shelling of both the school and the power plant. That would make tanks and their ammunition perfect candidates to replace the cluster bombs in a repeat of Reagan’s move in 1982. From the figures in this document (pdf, see this pdf for a guide to the categories), it appears that in 2013, the US provided over $620 million worth of assistance in the category of “Tanks and Military Vehicles” to Israel, just among the figures reported by the State Department rather than the Defense Department.
Questions raised regarding the use of U.S.-supplied military equipment by Israel in Lebanon in June and July 1982, led the Reagan Administration to determine on July 15, 1982, that Israel “may” have violated its July 23, 1952, Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement with the United States (TIAS 2675). Concerns centered on whether or not Israel had used U.S.-supplied anti-personnel cluster bombs against civilian targets during its military operations in Lebanon and the siege of Beirut. The pertinent segment of that 1952 agreement between Israel and the United States reads as follows:
The Government of Israel assures the United States Government that such equipment, materials, or services as may be acquired from the United States … are required for and will be used solely to maintain its internal security, its legitimate self-defense, or to permit it to participate in the defense of the area of which it is a part, or in United Nations collective security arrangements and measures, and that it will not undertake any act of aggression against any other state.
It should be noted that none of the critical terms such as “internal security,” “legitimate self-defense,” or “act of aggression” are defined within this 1952 U.S.-Israeli agreement. The House Foreign Affairs Committee held hearings on this issue in July and August 1982. On July 19, 1982, the Reagan Administration announced that it would prohibit new exports of cluster bombs to Israel. This prohibition was lifted by the Reagan Administration in November 1988 PDF Link