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 UN accuses Israel of herding 110 Palestinians into

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PostSubject: UN accuses Israel of herding 110 Palestinians into   UN accuses Israel of herding 110 Palestinians into Icon_minitimeFri Jan 09, 2009 6:45 am

UN accuses Israel of herding 110 Palestinians into a house and then shelling it, leaving 30 dead

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 11:17 AM on 09th January 2009

* One third of people dying in Gaza are children - report
* Obama 'may open up talks with Hamas'
* UN Security Council passes resolution demanding ceasefire and Israeli withdrawal
* Israel insists it will 'act in its own interests'

The United Nations has cited witnesses accusing Israel of killing 30 people inside a house filled with Palestinians who had been evacuated there by Israeli troops.

The witnesses told the UN that Israel had evacuated about 110 Palestinians into the house - then repeatedly shelled it 24 hours later, killing the civilians inside.

The UN was quoted by the AFP as saying: '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.

UN accuses Israel of herding 110 Palestinians into Article-1110212-02FD52C9000005DC-715_468x366
Palestinian children who fled from their homes following an Israeli air strike sit at a United Nations aid centre based in a local school. The UN has accused Israel of killing 30 more civilians in shelling in Gaza

UN accuses Israel of herding 110 Palestinians into Article-1110212-02FDE109000005DC-551_468x354
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, right, abstains from voting, as Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Gabriela Shalev, left, observes at the United Nations Security Council meeting

'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, AFP said.

'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 was quoted as saying in a report on the situation in the battered Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military told the AFP that it was investigating the allegation.

The accusation came as a 'credible' report from Gaza claimed one third of the 760 reported killed in the conflict have been children.

UN accuses Israel of herding 110 Palestinians into Article-1110212-02FCB668000005DC-759_468x276
Smoke rises during Israeli's offensive in Gaza last night

As of Thursday, 257 children were among the approximately 760 reported dead in Gaza. There were another 1,080 children among the 3,100 injured in the conflict, according to statistics from Gaza's health ministry.

The UN's top humanitarian official, John Holmes, described the numbers as 'credible' and deeply disturbing. UN officials say about half of the casualties were civilians.

Another report claimed Barack Obama is set to open up low-level talks with Hamas when he takes over the presidency.

With agreement growing in Washington that the Bush policy of excluding Hamas is counter-productive, the Guardian cited transition sources who claimed the President-Elect is being advised to open clandestine talks with the Islamist organisation - possibly through European channels.

UN accuses Israel of herding 110 Palestinians into Article-1110212-02FD1695000005DC-855_468x286
Israeli children playing in a street in the southern town of Sderot drop their bicycles and race to an air raid shelter as a 'red alert' siren sounds signalling a rocket attack from the Gaza Strip yesterday

And last night the 15-member UN Security Council overwhelmingly passed a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire and Israel to fully withdraw from Gaza.

Fourteen members of the Council voted for the resolution - with the United States abstaining.

'At last...the United Nations is speaking clearly with one voice,' said British Foreign Minister David Miliband.

'It's speaking clearly for a ceasefire, clearly for action on smuggling of arms, clearly on the opening of the crossings.

'And it's trying to speak up for the people of the Middle East, whether they live in Gaza or in Israel, because, in the end, they're going to have to live next door to each other.'

He added: 'Finally we have a consensus in the international community about the need for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire.

'That needs to be translated on words on the UN page to change on the ground.'

UN accuses Israel of herding 110 Palestinians into Article-1110212-02FD15E8000005DC-684_468x349
Israeli army officers and soldiers pour over maps as they gather for a briefing in a Palestinian house during an operation against Hamas militants this week

Hours after the resolution was passed, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Israel would act only in its own interests.

'Israel has acted, is acting and will act only according to its considerations, the security needs of its citizens and its right to self defence,' a statement said.

It made no direct reference to how Israel would treat the call for a ceasefire.

Hamas is said to be examining the resolution.

Livni, along with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, convened in session today to discusss the Security Council resolution and their next moves in the conflict.

Also today the UN Human Rights Council is due to hold a special session on the conflict examining a motion by Egypt, Pakistan and Cuba seeking condemnation of the Israeli offensive.

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.'

UN accuses Israel of herding 110 Palestinians into Article-1110212-02FD52D0000005DC-564_468x395
A rocket explosion like a deadly firework lights up the sky over Gaza City last night

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

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.

Amnesty International has accused both Israel and Hamas of using civilians as human shields.

The Red Cross has criticised Israel for its conduct towards civilians in Gaza during the offensive, accusing it of failing to fulfil its obligation to help the wounded.

Officials, who claim Israel has denied them access to the Gaza area for four days, said medical teams found four young children huddled by the bodies of their dead mothers in a shelled house.

'This is a shocking incident,' Pierre Wettach, Red Cross head for Israel and the Palestinian territories, said. 'The Israeli military must have been aware of the situation but did not assist the wounded.'

Israel's ambassador in Geneva, Aharon Leshno-Yaar, denied his country was failing in its humanitarian obligations.

'Once the military activity was over, then it was possible for humanitarian teams to evacuate the wounded,' he said.
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