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Israel pounds Gaza refugee camp as war enters ninth month

Russia, China wrangle with US over UN resolution on Gaza ceasefire plan

June 08, 2024 00:00:00

People mourn the deaths of relatives killed by Israeli bombardment in Gaza recently. — AFP

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, June 07 (AFP/Reuters): Israeli forces bombarded a Gaza refugee camp on Friday after a deadly strike on a UN-run school there, as the war sparked by Hamas's unprecedented attack on Israel entered its ninth month.

The conflict has killed thousands, laid waste to much of the Gaza Strip, uprooted most of its 2.4 million population and put them at risk of starvation.

Efforts to mediate the first ceasefire since a week-long pause in November appear to have stalled, only a week after US President Joe Biden offered a new roadmap.

Hamas has yet to respond to Biden's proposal, while Israel has expressed openness to discussions but remains committed to its goal of destroying the Palestinian Islamist group.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital in Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, said at least 37 people were killed in Thursday's Israeli strike on the UN-run school in Nuseirat camp.

The Israeli military said its fighter jets killed nine "terrorists" in three classrooms where about 30 militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad were hiding. The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said hundreds of displaced Gazans were sheltering at the school, which was "hit without prior warning".

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the strike as "horrific", while Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu Zeid condemned what he called the "deliberate bombing of an UNRWA school". "Israeli violations of Palestinian rights continue day after day, in full view of the civilised world," Zeid said on X.

Meanwhile, Russia and China, which hold veto powers in the UN Security Council, raised concerns on Thursday with a US draft resolution that would back a proposal - outlined by President Joe Biden - for a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas.

The council's only Arab member, Algeria, also signaled it was not ready to back the text, diplomats said. A resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the US, France, Britain, China or Russia to pass.

Biden laid out a three-phase ceasefire plan for the Gaza Strip a week ago that he described as an Israeli initiative. The US is seeking international support for the plan that Hamas is still studying. It circulated a one-page draft resolution to the 15-member U.N Security Council on Monday and a revised version on Wednesday, both seen by Reuters.

The current draft welcomes the ceasefire proposal, describes it as "acceptable" to Israel, "calls upon Hamas to also accept it, and urges both parties to fully implement its terms without delay and without condition."

Hamas still to give response

on Gaza truce plan: Qatar

Hamas has not given its response on a tabled plan for a ceasefire with Israel in Gaza and an exchange of hostages and prisoners, Qatar's foreign ministry spokesman said Thursday. "Mediators have not yet received a response from the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) regarding the latest proposal," Majed al-Ansari told Qatar's state news agency. Hamas had "indicated that it is still studying the proposal", Ansari added, explaining mediation efforts were ongoing.

US calls on Israel to be 'transparent' on Gaza school strike

The United States (US) called Thursday on Israel to be transparent over a strike on a UN school in Gaza, including on whether children were killed. "The government of Israel has said that they are going to release more information about this strike, including the names of those who died in it. We expect them to be fully transparent in making that information public," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

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