U.N. Blames Israel for Shelter Attack

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Aid Agency Warns of Dire Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza.

The United Nations blamed Israel for the second deadly assault in a week on a shelter for displaced Gazans and warned of a dire humanitarian crisis with many in the Palestinian territory already lacking electricity, potable water or safe refuge.

The strike on the U.N.-run shelter early Wednesday killed 15 people, according to Gaza health ministry. Hours later, Israel declared a brief, unilateral pause in the bombardment. As Palestinians used the four-hour window to stock up on provisions, explosions rocked a crowded Gaza City market, killing 17.

The carnage highlighted the desperate scramble in blockaded, densely populated Gaza to stay clear of the 3-week-old conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that governs the territory. More than 1,350 Palestinians have been killed, according to the health ministry. Palestinian and U.N officials said most were civilians.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or Unrwa, said more than 200,000 of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents are living in its 85 shelters. Many came after leaving home under Israeli warnings to evacuate combat zones.

Fifty-six Israeli soldiers have also been killed, including three who died Wednesday while uncovering a booby-trapped tunnel shaft inside a residence in southern Gaza, the military said. Three civilians have been killed by rockets fired into Israel.

“Our shelters are overflowing,” said Pierre Krahenbuhl, Unrwa’s commissioner-general. “Tens of thousands may soon be stranded in the streets of Gaza without food, water and shelter if attacks on these areas continue.”

About 3,300 people were crowded into the shelter at the Jabalia Elementary Girls School in northern Gaza when three blasts tore through the building just before dawn, leaving floors and mattresses in classrooms smeared with blood and strewed with children’s shoes.

“Children were killed as they slept next to their parents,” said Mr. Krahenbuhl. A guard at the school was killed.

Mr. Krahenbuhl condemned what he called a “serious violation of international law by Israeli forces.”

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