Israel faces growing condemnation after school strike

Paris - Israel faced growing international condemnation of its actions in Gaza on Monday after a strike near a UN school sheltering civilians left 10 people dead and sparked widespread outrage.

As Israel's operation in the besieged territory entered its 28th day, the international community appeared to be losing patience with a confrontation the Palestinians say has left more than 1 800 dead in Gaza.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius led the charge, issuing one of the most strongly worded condemnations yet from a Western official.

"How many more deaths will it take to stop... the carnage in Gaza?" Fabius said in a statement.

"Israel's right to security is total, but this right does not justify the killing of children and the slaughter of civilians," Fabius said.

"A political solution is essential... and should in my opinion be imposed by the international community," he said.

Fabius's statement prompted some to praise Western officials for at last taking a tougher line with Israel.

"Finally! This is very, very good. The systematic targeting of civilians and schools must be denounced," said Yves Aubin de la Messuziere, a retired French diplomat and expert on the Middle East.

"We should be brave enough to point the finger of blame, of course at Hamas but also at Israel," he said.

'Very serious' attack

The United Nations condemned Sunday's strike at the school, where around 3 000 homeless Palestinians had been sheltering, with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling the attack "a moral outrage and a criminal act".

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Washington was also "appalled", demanding a "full and prompt" investigation into the strike - the third time in 10 days a UN school had been hit in the fighting.

The Israeli army acknowledged targeting three Islamic Jihad militants on a motorbike in the "vicinity of an UNRWA school", saying it was investigating.

Israel declared a seven-hour unilateral truce on Monday, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said its forces did not intentionally hit civilians and apologised for any harm done to them.

But outrage continued to mount.

Spain roundly criticised the strike, with the foreign ministry in a statement calling it a "very serious" attack.

"Spain reiterates its urgent call for strict respect of International Humanitarian Law and in particular the obligation to avoid hurting the civilian population as well as to respect the inviolability of UN sites," it added.

"Israel's armed forces should intensify their efforts to avoid the loss of innocent lives."

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the United Nations was "right" to condemn the shelling, though he declined to say whether it breached international law.

"The UN has spoken very clearly and I think they're right to speak very clearly," Cameron told the BBC.

"International law is clear that it's completely wrong and illegal to target civilians, if that's what's happened."

Schools 'symbol of tragedy'

UN cultural and education agency UNESCO said at least seven schools run by the United Nations Works and Relief Agency (UNWRA) had been hit since the start of the confrontation.

The agency's chief Irina Bokova urged all sides to ensure that schools were left out of the conflict.

"Schools in Gaza have become the symbol of an unfolding human tragedy," Bokova said in a statement.

"The protection of schools cannot wait. It is essential for the protection of civilians and it is a precondition to start getting the education system back to normalcy as soon as circumstances permit."

Israel's arch-foe Iran meanwhile denounced the "inaction" of the UN Security Council on Gaza, with President Hassan Rouhani accusing the international community of failing "to prevent the crimes against humanity of the Zionist regime".

"The savage aggression by the army of this child-killer regime [Israel], continues with a deliberate policy to commit genocide and massacre civilians and destroy infrastructure, houses, hospitals, schools and mosques," Rouhani said in Tehran.

Read more on: palestine israel gaza
Bob Shawcroft 2014/08/04 09:04:00 PM
I think if israel had wanted to hit the school, they would have hit the dam school. I think 10 people died, out of 3000? if that was intentional I will eat a hamas terrorist. Stupid, irresponsible, careless. but not intentional. obviously, otherwise hundreds would be dead
Enig Ma 2014/08/04 09:04:58 PM
And the IDF knew the exact location of each and everyone of those schools. Next time don't tell them.
Sviatoslav Igorevich 2014/08/04 09:06:53 PM
What people really need to understand is that Zionism is not Judaism.. Israel is a Zionist state.. Many Jews mainly the Orthodox Jews do not support Zionism and view Zionism as an ideology against Jewish Law. Zionism is to Judaism what Nazism was to Germany, Not all Germans were Nazs.. Sadly the world sees what is going on in Israel and the slaughter of innocent children and women and attribute this to Judaism when its not.
Bob Shawcroft 2014/08/04 09:11:43 PM
I really wish news24 wasn't influenced by their muslim owners? the bias is incredible
Eugene Blommetjies 2014/08/04 09:34:20 PM
Maybe they are destroying palestine so they can settle there???
Alan Smith 2014/08/04 10:02:59 PM
"Growing condemnation" - ironic headline to say the least. Most of the world condemns israel / jews by default (2000 yrs and counting) ... it serves their own narrow interests because, like with all minority groups, it is harder for them to resist popular uprisings. The reason for this round of vitriolic anti semitism is that history's scapegoat can now defend itself. And the world cannot handle that...
Ennio Morricone 2014/08/04 10:09:49 PM
Toothless UN, arrest Netanyahau for genocide simple.
Brooklax Mpundus 2014/08/04 10:23:41 PM
If hamas really cared about civillians dying (their electorate ), then they would stop the attacks and try for a peaceful settlement. This killing has to stop , and hamas can make it happen. Do they want to though ?
Michael Ndalama Mwale 2014/08/04 11:24:47 PM
This is the very outcome that Hamas would like to see. Yet logic would call for the condemnation to be directed at Hamas for it is the one that invited such attacks.
Adarsh Durgapersad 2014/08/04 11:33:19 PM
I have an idea. Why don't some of the keyboard warriors choosing sides here go to Gaza, choose a side to fight for, and then you can be quite involved in the war. In this conflict, by choosing a side you are implicitly negligent to the innocent people being slaughtered in this pointless war. This is not a soccer match to say "My team is better than yours" or "my religion is better than yours". Such mentality blatantly proves your stupidity and cements your place at the bottom of the human intelligence hierarchy. A 4 year old child or new born baby is unable to contribute to any of the evil crimes that Hamas or Israel have committed. Yet this child or new born baby is hit or impacted by a missile or shelling as a result of the war between these 2 evils. The child or new born baby loses its limbs in a crushing blow that leaves the remains of this child or new born baby in a red sea of blood. Tears pour down the face of surviving witnesses who view the aftermath in horror. The child or new born baby could not defend itself and played no part in the war. This is the reality of the war in Gaza. And some of you keyboard warriors here sit comfortably behind your pc and rant utter garbage about whose killing is more justified, and are blind to the true victims of this war.