The United States has slammed ally, Israel for bombs that killed 19 people at a UN shelter in Gaza, in its strongest condemnation yet of Israeli attacks on civilians in the Palestinian enclave.
Josh Earnest, a White House spokesman, said on Thursday that the shelling of the school in Jabaliya was “totally indefensible” and called on Israeli forces to “live up to their own standards” of protecting civilians.
“While we underscore the importance of a full and prompt investigation of this tragic incident, as well as a shelling of other UN facilities and schools that have been hit, it does not appear there’s a lot of doubt about whose artillery was involved in this incident,” Earnest said.
“The shelling of a UN facility that is housing innocent civilians who are fleeing violence is totally unacceptable and totally indefensible.
“We believe the Israeli government and the Israeli military need to do more to live up to the own standards that they have set for protecting innocent civilians,” Earnest said.
UNRWA, the UN’s refugee agency in Gaza, also said its investigations showed that Israeli fire was responsible for the attack, which it called shameful and an affront to humanity.
Earlier on Thursday, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said his country was determined, regardless of ceasefire efforts, to complete the destruction of tunnels that Palestinian fighters have built under the Gaza-Israel border.
“Until now, we have destroyed dozens of terror tunnels and we are determined to finish this mission – with or without a ceasefire,” Netanyahu said.
As of late Thursday, Gaza officials said at least 1,410 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the battered territory and nearly 7,000 wounded.