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Strike on Gaza market during 'partial ceasefire' kills 17

Hamas earlier denounced the four-hour lull announced by Israel as a publicity stunt, saying it had “no value”.

Source: AP/Press Association Images

Palestinians help carry an injured man to an ambulance following an Israeli attack in the Shijaiyah neighborhood.

AT LEAST 17 people were killed in an Israeli strike on a packed Gaza market today in a deadly raid that came as Israel was observing a four-hour humanitarian lull.

Thick black smoke billowed over the site in the war-torn Shejaiya neighbourhood as at least five ambulances raced to the scene where bodies lay strewn on the ground, an AFP correspondent said.

A bloodied, limp lifeless body lay in a pool of petrol and mud, his head crushed, one of at least 17 people who were killed. At least another 200 were wounded, medics said.

It was supposed to have been a rare pause for Gaza’s battered population of 1.8 million to go out in safety to stock up on goods, and for medics to evacuate the dead and wounded.

Instead, there was further bloody mayhem with more than 30 people killed across Gaza in the first three hours of the lull alone, sending the death toll from 23 days of unrelenting Israeli attacks soaring to 1,336.

Source: AP/Press Association Images

Israel had said its truce, which began at 1pm Irish time, would not apply in places were troops were “currently operating,” hours after the army made what it called a “significant advance” into the narrow coastal strip.

Hamas denounced the four-hour lull as a publicity stunt, saying it had “no value”.

The strike on the market came hours after Israeli tank shells slammed into a UN school sheltering some 3,300 homeless Gazans, killing 16 and drawing a furious response from the United Nations.

“This morning a UN school sheltering thousands of Palestinian families suffered a reprehensible attack,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on a visit to Costa Rica.

“It is unjustifiable, and demands accountability and justice.”

Source: AP/Press Association Images

Palestinians pray over white coffin-draped bodies of 10 members of the Al Astal immediate and extended family, killed by an Israeli strike.

The attack was also denounced by the White House in a carefully-worded statement which avoided mentioning Israel.

“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,” a statement said.

A two-member Israeli delegation arrived in Cairo this evening to discuss a possible ceasefire with Egyptian officials, an official at the airport told AFP, saying they were expected to leave after several hours.

An Israeli official also confirmed a defence ministry team had left for the Egyptian capital, without giving further details.

Cairo, a key mediator in previous truce negotiations between Israel and Hamas, is also expected to host a Palestinian delegation later this week.

- © AFP, 2014

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Read Israel announces limited ‘humanitarian’ ceasefire

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