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Fresh Israeli shelling kills 10 in UN shelter for displaced in Rafah

Aug. 3, 2014 11:06 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 3, 2014 8:21 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- 10 Palestinians were killed on Sunday after Israeli shells hit a UN school in Rafah where thousands of people were sheltering from the ongoing Israeli offensive.

At least 30 were injured in the strike, according to Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra.

Chris Gunness, spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, said the school had been housing thousands of internally displaced people who had been forced to flee their homes by the ongoing violence in Gaza.

"Shelling incident in vicinity of UNRWA school in Rafah sheltering almost 3,000 IDP. Initial reports say multiple deaths and injury," he wrote on his Twitter feed.

The strikes brought Sunday morning's death toll in Gaza to 50, as Israeli forces have pounded the besieged coastal enclave relentlessly by land, sea, and air. More than 1,752 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 10,000 injured since Israel launched its assault.

The deaths on Sunday include 10 members of the Al-Ghoul family in the Tel al-Sultan neighborhood of Rafah, killed in a strike on their home.

Israel has shelled UN shelters for the displaced at least six times so far since the conflict began four weeks ago, killing dozens.

The UN has condemned the strikes repeatedly, highlighting that they have given the exact coordinates of each shelter to Israeli officials repeatedly in order to ensure that civilians taking shelter are kept safe.

Israel, meanwhile, charges that Palestinian militants have in the past launched rockets from near the shelters.

Over the course of the 27-day Israeli assault, a quarter of all Gazans -- more than 475,000 people -- have been displaced.

Israel has kept all borders shut with Egyptian help, however, meaning that the displaced have been unable to escape the assault and instead must shelter within the Strip.

More than 259,000 of the displaced have taken shelter in UN shelters, according to the UN. An average of 2,800 people were sheltering in each shelter, the UN said, even though they normally only have the capacity to hold 500.

As of mid-last week, Israeli forces had destroyed more than 5,000 homes and partially damaged more than 27,000.

Israel began heavily assaulting Rafah after fighting with Hamas forces broke out there Friday, and medical authorities said they killed more than 110 in a 24-hour period of intense shelling on the eastern neighborhoods of the city.

AFP contributed to this report.
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