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Gaza: At least 15 dead in UN school shelling

Israeli forces shelled a UN-run school sheltering Palestinians in the northern Gaza strip.

A trail of blood is seen in the courtyard of a UN School in the northern Gaza Strip after it was hit by an Israeli tank shell, 24 July 2014. At least 15 people were killed, including a baby. Picture: AFP.

TEL AVIV - Gaza health officials say at least 15 people have been killed while seeking shelter in a United Nations (UN) school in the northern Gaza Strip.

According to reports, Israel Defence Force (IDF) tank shells hit the school's yard where Palestinians who fled strikes were staying.

Israeli soldiers work on their Merkava tank at an army deployment area near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, 24 July 2014. Picture: AFP.

Pools of blood lay on the ground and on students' desks in the courtyard of the school near the apparent impact mark of the shell, according to a Reuters photographer at the scene.

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesperson for the Gaza Health Ministry, said another 200 people were wounded in the attack.

The director of a local hospital said various medical centres around Beit Hanoun in the coastal enclave were receiving the wounded.

This is the fourth time a UN facility has been hit in fighting between Israel and Gaza fighters which has continued for 17 days.

An IDF spokesperson says they are looking into the incident.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross claims relief workers in Gaza have also come under heavy fire and the UN reports that for the past two days a child has died in Gaza every hour.

ENDLESS FIGHTING

Israeli forces are trying to stop militants from Hamas, which rules Gaza, and their allies from firing rockets into its territory.

Palestinians said residents of two southern villages were trapped by days of tank shelling, with medics unable to evacuate the wounded.

Hamas fired rockets at Tel Aviv and said its gunmen carried out a lethal ambush on Israeli soldiers in north Gaza.

Israel earlier won a partial reprieve from the economic pain of its Gaza war with the lifting of a US ban on commercial flights to Tel Aviv.

With Washington's encouragement, and the involvement of Turkey and Hamas ally Qatar, Egypt has been trying to broker a limited humanitarian ceasefire for the battered enclave.

One Cairo official said on Wednesday it could take effect by the weekend, in time for the Eid al-Fitr festival next Monday or Tuesday, Islam's biggest annual celebration at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

But a US official described any truce by the weekend as unlikely, as did an Israeli security cabinet minister who said the army would need one to two weeks to complete its main mission of razing tunnels used by Hamas for cross-border raids.

Gaza has been rocked by regular bouts of violence since Israel unilaterally pulled out of the territory in 2005.

Hamas, which rejects Israel's right to exist and is shunned in the West, balked at Egypt's proposal for an unconditional truce, saying its terms had to be met in full for any end to the conflict.

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