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10 people were killed in Israeli strikes on central and southern Gaza bringing the Palestinian death toll to 1,374 on day 24 of the conflict
Outrage at refugee slaughter US tops up Israeli ammo

GAZA/JERUSALEM, July 31, (Agencies): UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned on Wednesday the deaths of at least 15 Palestinians among thousands sheltering at an UN-run school. The United Nations said its initial assessment was that Israeli artillery shells hit the facility. The United Nations’ senior human rights official, Navi Pillay, said on Thursday that Israel has attacked homes, schools, hospitals, and UN premises in apparent violation of the Geneva Conventions. Pillay said Israel’s actions seemed to be in “deliberate defiance of obligations that international law imposes”. Israel said its forces were attacked by guerrillas near the school in northern Jabalya and had fired back. In another incident on Wednesday, 17 people were killed in nearby Shejaia by what Palestinian officials said was Israeli Ebola fears shelling of a produce market. The Israeli military said it was investigating. “Such a massacre requires an earthquake- like response,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, whose group has kept up dozens of daily rocket launches deep into Israel.

The Israelis have kept casualties from the salvoes low, using its Iron Dome air defence system to intercept them and air-raid sirens to send people to shelters. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing international alarm over a rising civilian death toll in Gaza, said on Thursday he would not accept any ceasefire that stopped Israel completing the destruction of militants’ infiltration tunnels. The Israeli military estimated on Wednesday that accomplishing that task, already into its fourth week, would take several more days. “We are determined to complete this mission, with or without a ceasefire,” Netanyahu said in public remarks at a meeting of his full cabinet in Tel Aviv. “I wont agree to any proposal that will not enable the Israeli military to finish this important task, for the sake of Israel’s security.” Leaving open the option of widening a ground campaign in the Hamas Islamistdominated Gaza Strip, the Israeli military said it had called up an additional 16,000 reservists.

A military source said they would relieve a similar number of reserve soldiers being stood down. Netanyahu’s security cabinet on Wednesday approved continuing opera tions launched on July 8 in response to a surge of cross-border rocket attacks. Israel also sent a delegation to Egypt, which has been trying, with US blessing, to broker a ceasefire. Washington has also, however, allowed Israel to tap a local US arms stockpile in the past few weeks to replenish its grenades and mortar rounds, a US defence official said on Thursday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who failed in a visit to the region last week to secure a ceasefire, voiced support for Israel’s operations against the tunnels. “No country can sit there and live with tunnels being dug under its border, out of which jump people who are carrying handcuffs and tranquilizer drugs in order to kidnap their citizens and hold them for ransom,” Kerry said in an interview broadcast on Thursday by India’s NDTV. Gaza officials say at least 1,394 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the battered territory and nearly 7,000 wounded. Fifty-six Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza clashes and more than 400 wounded.

Three civilians have been killed by Palestinian shelling in Israel. In the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, Israeli tank shells landed near another UN-run school and at least 30 people sheltering inside were wounded by shrapnel and shattered glass, witnesses and hospital officials said. Rolling Israeli ground assaults on residential areas, preceded by mass warnings to evacuate, have displaced more than 200,000 of Gaza’s 1.8 million Palestinians.

The tiny territory’s infrastructure is in ruins, with power and water outages. Israel says it is trying to avoid civilian casualties and blames these on Hamas and other Palestinian factions dug in for urban combat. Both sides have voiced openness to a truce, but their terms diverge dramatically. Israel wants Gaza stripped of infiltration tunnels and rocket stocks.

Hamas rules that out, and seeks an end to a crippling Gaza blockade enforced by Israel and Egypt, which view the Palestinian Islamists as a security threat. Major General Sami Turgeman, chief of Israeli forces in Gaza, said on Wednesday they were “but a few days away from destroying all the attack tunnels”. The army said 32 of the secret passages had been found so far and half of them blown up.

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