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Witnesses say Israel shelled Gaza house crowded with civilians


The United Nations on Friday cited witnesses saying Israeli forces evacuated about 110 Palestinians into a house which they then repeatedly shelled 24 hours later, killing about 30 people. It said that "according to several testimonies, on 4 January, Israeli foot soldiers evacuated approximately 110 Palestinians into a single-residence house in Zeitun (half of whom were children) warning them to stay indoors. Twenty-four hours later, Israeli forces shelled the home repeatedly, killing approximately 30."...


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Witnesses say Israel shelled Gaza house crowded with civilians

AFP

09 January 2009 1734 hrs


JERUSALEM: The United Nations on Friday cited witnesses saying Israeli forces evacuated about 110 Palestinians into a house which they then repeatedly shelled 24 hours later, killing about 30 people.

It said that "according to several testimonies, on 4 January, Israeli foot soldiers evacuated approximately 110 Palestinians into a single-residence house in Zeitun (half of whom were children) warning them to stay indoors. Twenty-four hours later, Israeli forces shelled the home repeatedly, killing approximately 30."

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) called it "one of the gravest incidents since the beginning of operations" by Israeli forces in Gaza on December 27.

"Those who survived and were able walked two kilometres to Salah Ed Din road before being transported to hospital in civilian vehicles. Three children, the youngest of whom was five months old, died upon arrival at the hospital," OCHA said in a report on the situation in the battered Gaza Strip.

Asked for comment, an Israeli military spokesman said the allegation was being investigated as were other claims that civilians were fired upon and that troops failed to help wounded civilians.

The report came as the UN Human Rights Council was due to hold Friday a special session on the conflict in Gaza Strip to examine a motion by Egypt, Pakistan and Cuba seeking condemnation of the Israeli offensive and of "grave" violations.

The three countries, backed by members of the Arab League, Organisation of Islamic Conference, non-aligned and African states, gained the support of 32 of the 47 Council members for the special debate, twice as much as required.

An unofficial copy of the draft resolution expected to be presented to the world body's rights assembly called for "international action to put an end to grave violations by the occupying power, Israel, in the occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip".

It also demanded an immediate end to the military operation and that Israel "stop the targeting of civilians".

The session comes on the heels of the near unanimous approval on Thursday by the 15-member UN Security Council to a resolution calling for an "immediate, durable" ceasefire leading to the "full withdrawal" of Israeli forces.

The text also "calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment" and welcomes initiatives aimed at "creating and opening humanitarian corridors and other mechanisms for the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid."

It was unclear what impact the Security Council resolution would have on the Human Rights Council text.

Traditionally, the Human Rights Council takes its decisions by consensus, but the current proposals for a resolution were regarded as one-sided, diplomats in Geneva indicated.

The text does not mention rocket attacks by Hamas militia on Israel, a key requirement for European Union and some Latin American countries in the assembly.

The session beginning at 11 am (1000 GMT) is expected to spill over into Monday after a weekend break because of the degree of interest from member states and observers including several leading human rights organisations, sources close to the UN rights body said.

Israel is not a member of the Human Rights Council, but has the rights to take part in the debate as an interested party.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Maliki was expected to attend the meeting.

- AFP/ir





:: Article nr. 50596 sent on 09-jan-2008 16:03 ECT

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