general of the United Nations
has called for a full investigation into Israel's
shelling of three of its buildings in the Gaza
Strip during its
three-week long assault against Hamas
furious Ban Ki-moon condemned as "outrageous, shocking and alarming"
the destruction he had seen while touring Gaza, and described as
"excessive use" of force the violence wrought by both Israel and
heartbreaking scenes I have seen and I am deeply grieved by what I have seen
today," he said, standing against a backdrop of still-smoking food aid in
a UN warehouse destroyed by Israeli gunfire last Thursday.
Attacks on several UN buildings
proper judicial inquiry and guarantees that UN buildings would not be attacked
again, Ban said: "I am just appalled. I am not able to describe how I am
feeling, having seen this site of the bombing of the United Nations compound.
This was an outrageous and totally unacceptable attack against the United
An aide to Ban
said he had come to Gaza
to express solidarity with the Palestinians who had suffered during the 22-day
follow furious remarks delivered by senior officials of the UN Relief and Works
Agency (UNRWA) at the weekend when two children were killed by Israeli
shellfire at a school where hundreds of people were taking refuge. Officials
then called for an inquiry into "possible war crimes".
conflict Israeli shells hit the UN headquarters in Gaza as well as two UN schools, killing
nearly 40 people near one of the schools in the worst incident.
Attacks justified with alleged hostile fire
Israeli military announced on Saturday that it would launch an inquiry at the
"highest level" into the five most controversial incidents where
civilians were killed – including the targeting of UN buildings – it appeared
to have pre-judged that inquiry by adding that initial Israeli Defence Force
(IDF) investigations had shown hostile fire was coming from or near all five
locations before they were hit.
Livni demands release of Schalit
came as Israel's foreign
minister and leader of the Kadima party, Tzipi Livni, made clear that Israel would only consider acceding to a UN
security council resolution demanding a full lifting of the economic blockade
on Gaza – in
force for a year and a half – when Hamas released Corporal Gilad Schalit, who
has been in captivity since 2006.
"He is an
IDF soldier," the foreign minister said during a speech in Rishon Lezion.
"We sent him to defend the country and we have an obligation to bring him
thinks it wants to get something beyond humanitarian assistance, which we will
give regardless, we have someone who is very important to us, and, for me; one
thing is contingent upon the other."
Hamas claims "victory"
thousands of Hamas supporters gathered for what the Islamist group's leaders
described as a victory rally in a square outside the remains of the parliament
building in Gaza City, which was heavily damaged in an
Israeli air strike. Two men hoisted a sign in Hebrew reading: "The
resistance will be victorious, Israel
has been defeated".
Huge material loss
estimates of the full cost of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza reflect the scale of the destruction:
the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics put total property damage at $1.9bn
humanitarian chief, John Holmes, speaking in New York,
said the organisation's staff in Gaza
were trying "to find out as much as they can about how great the damage is
and how great the needs are".
"On the purely humanitarian and early recovery side … it will be hundreds
of million of dollars and no doubt the overall reconstruction costs will be
numbered in billions of dollars, but I wouldn't want to put a figure on it
Saudi Arabia has already pledged $1bn
towards repairing the damage. European Union foreign ministers are due to meet
in Brussels shortly to discuss humanitarian aid
and Israeli demands for the prevention of weapons smuggling into Gaza.
More than 1,300 dead, thousands of homes destroyed
More than 1,300
Palestinians were killed in Israel's
attacks, which Israel
said were intended to halt cross-border rocket attacks and destroy Hamas's
Hamas has said
5,000 homes, 16 government buildings and 20 mosques were destroyed and 20,000
houses were damaged in the assault; Israel claimed militants hid
weapons inside the mosques. Palestinian militant groups said 112 of their
fighters and 180 Hamas policemen were killed. Israel put its dead at 10 soldiers
and said three civilians were killed in rocket attacks.
More dead will be found in rubble
officials have confirmed that 700 Palestinian civilians were killed, and that
figure is likely to rise as survivors return to search through the rubble of
their shattered homes. As many as 400,000 Gazans have been left without running
Israel, which accused Hamas of
endangering non-combatants by operating in densely populated areas, alleged
that hundreds of militant Hamas fighters were among the dead.
WHO: Health crisis imminent
In Geneva the director
general of the World Health Organisation, Margaret Chan, warned of a looming
health crisis among the 1.5 million Gazans. She said she was "deeply
concerned" about the interruption of immunisations and other life-saving
care, and the limited availability of hospital beds in Gaza.
Last night an
Israeli man was shot and seriously injured while driving near the Kochav
Hashachar settlement in the West Bank. The
previously unheard of al-Bashair army claimed responsibility for the attack. (Guardian/AG)