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British PM condemns shelling of UN school in Gaza

AFP

Adding his voice to an outraged international community, David Cameron said the UN was "right" to condemn the shelling of a UN school in Gaza.

A Palestinian man pictured through a damaged classroom carries a boy as he walks at a United Nations-run school sheltering Palestinians displaced by an Israeli ground offensive. (Reuters)

British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday that the United Nations was “right” to condemn the shelling of a UN school in Gaza, but declined to say whether it breached international law.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the attack on a school in Rafah on Sunday, which killed 10 Palestinians who were sheltering there, was a “moral outrage and a criminal act”. 

Cameron told the BBC: “The UN has spoken very clearly and I think they’re right to speak very clearly. “International law is clear that it’s completely wrong and illegal to target civilians, if that’s what’s happened.” 

Asked if he believed that international law had been broken, the prime minister said: “I’m not an international lawyer, so it’s up to the international lawyers. “But international law is very, very clear that the use of force always has to be proportionate, that civilians should not be targeted.” 

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said on Sunday he was “appalled” at the civilian casualties caused by the attack on the UN-run school. The strike has sparked world outrage, with the United States calling for a “full and prompt” investigation and France saying it was “unacceptable”. 

Earlier on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “Israel does not aim its fire at civilians and is sorry for any attack that unintentionally hits civilians,” without directly addressing the attack on the school. Israel announced it was holding its fire in most of Gaza for seven hours on Monday between 7am GMT and 2pm GMT, except the area east of Rafah.

Air strike on refugee camp 
Meanwhile, a child was killed and 30 people wounded in an Israeli air strike on a refugee camp in Gaza City on Monday just minutes into an Israeli-declared truce, medics said.

The strike hit a house in the beachfront Shati refugee camp, killing an eight-year-old girl, emergency services spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra told Agence France-Presse. Witnesses and several AFP correspondents reported hearing the whistle of a missile fired from an F16 warplane before it crashed into a house wedged between two tall buildings inside the camp. 

An AFP correspondent said the strike hit at 7.06am GMT – six minutes into the lull. The Israeli army said it was looking into the incident, but gave no further comment. With only a narrow alley leading to the house, it was not possible to get rescue equipment to the scene, with a long line of people passing out chunks of rubble by hand, an AFP correspondent said. 

The strike cause the house to pancake, leaving only a very narrow gap for rescuers to get inside, some of whom were bloodying themselves in the effort, he said. From within, they managed to pull out the body of a young girl wearing pyjamas whose spine appeared to be broken in several places, with rescuers struggling to get her onto a stretcher, he said. 

Hamas said it would not be observing the truce, and warned people to exercise extreme caution when venturing out onto the streets after earlier temporary ceasefire arrangements collapsed into a frenzy of bloodshed. – AFP

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