Update: White House Condemns Shelling of United Nations School

The recent trend of failed humanitarian truces continued after Israel's call for a four-hour humanitarian window was rejected by Hamas. Nearly 100 Palestinians died in the fighting on Wednesday.

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1:46 p.m.: Well, the reports were premature. The White House is not condemning Israel for the shelling of the United Nations school, just the shelling itself.

Here is the full 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.” 

1:26 p.m.: The AP is reporting a rare American reproach against a specific Israeli action just hours after an Israeli strike killed 16 Palestinians at a United Nations school in Gaza.

As we noted below, the Israeli military claimed that soldiers were being fired upon from a position near the school and that it was reviewing the incident. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also spoke out, calling the action "unjustifiable."

In another incident, three IDF soldiers were reportedly killed while entering a building wired with explosives. The building was said to be housing the opening of a tunnel.

11:14 a.m.: The recent trend of failed humanitarian truces, pauses, and windows in the battle between Israel and Hamas continued on Wednesday after Israel's call for a four-hour humanitarian window was rejected by Hamas. According to reports, a Hamas spokesman called the unilateral window "“meaningless, since it doesn’t include the hot areas on the border of the Gaza Strip.”

The pause was proposed after Israel reportedly hit a United Nations school killing at least 15 Palestinians.

An Israeli military report contends that IDF soldiers were targeted by mortar shells emanating from near the school: “In response, soldiers fired toward the origins of fire. And we’re still reviewing the incident.”

Meanwhile, fighting has only intensified as Gaza rocket fire and Israeli airstrikes have continued, bringing the death toll past a new grim benchmark.

Gaza officials announced that over 1300 Palestinians have now been killed in the three weeks of war. Israeli officials say that the figure includes hundreds of Hamas fighters.

Through Wednesday evening, rocket sirens went on in major Israeli cities including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as the rumors continue to suggest that each side is considering how to bring about a ceasefire.

Original Post

Violence erupted early Wednesday when Israeli tank shells plowed into a United Nations school housing displaced Gazans, killing at least 15 people, a U.N. aid agency spokesman and a health official told the Associated Press. Later in the day, the Israeli military declared a four-hour humanitarian cease-fire in parts of Gaza.

The Israeli military said it fired at the school, located in the Jebaliya refugee camp, only after being targeted first. "In response, soldiers fired toward the origins of fire," the military said in a statement. "And we're still reviewing the incident."

Meanwhile, the time frame for the ceasefire will occur between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time (8 a.m. to noon ET).

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, at least 1,283 people in Gaza have been killed and more than 7,100 have been wounded since the conflict began. The Israel Defense Forces reported 53 soldiers have died.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.