The violence of the conflict in Gaza spread to the West Bank on Thursday with at least two Palestinians killed and scores wounded in one of the biggest clashes seen for several years.
Further protests in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are expected following noon prayers on Friday, the last Friday of Ramadan, after the Palestinian Authority called for a “day of rage” over the bloodshed in Gaza.
Thousands of Palestinians took part in a demonstration after more than 15 women, children and United Nations staff were killed and around 200 injured when a UN shelter for those fleeing the Israeli bombing was hit.
The Israel Defence Forces insisted it had given the occupants of the shelter time to leave before shelling the area. But the UN flatly contradicted that, saying it had made repeated attempts to negotiate a window during which people could safely leave the area but none was granted. It said it had given the IDF precise co-ordinates of the location of the school.
Meanwhile reports emerged that the US secretary of state, John Kerry, had presented both sides with a new proposal for a cessation of violence. It centred around a week-long temporary ceasefire with Israeli troops allowed to stay in Gaza to locate and destroy tunnels; and simultaneous negotiations for a permanent deal, with guarantees by the US, EU and UN that the primary concerns of each side would be addressed.
Kerry was said to be awaiting a response from Israel and Hamas before leaving Cairo to return to Washington later on Friday. Israel’s security cabinet was due to meet later on Friday to discuss the plan.
Hamas’s leader-in-exile, Khaled Mishal, said a truce must include a guaranteed end to Israel’s eight-year blockade of the Gaza Strip. “We want a ceasefire as soon as possible, that’s parallel with the lifting of the siege of Gaza,” he told the BBC.
The school in Beit Hanoun in the north of Gaza was one of the grimmest incidents of the conflict, now in its 18th day and in which more than 800 Palestinians – mostly civilians – have been killed. Thirty-four Israelis and one Thai worker have died.
Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the UN, condemned the shelter attack, which came hours after the agency had warned that Israel’s actions in the Palestinian enclave could constitute war crimes. “Today’s attack underscores the imperative for the killing to stop and to stop now,” Ban said.
Valerie Amos, the UN’s top humanitarian official, described the attack on the school as “appalling”.
The school was hit while its playground was crowded with families waiting to be ferried to safety. According to survivors one shell landed in the schoolyard followed by several more rounds that hit the upper storeys of the building… see more
source: Guardian UK