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Attack on Gaza school was moral outrage: UN

By Kim Sengupta

An Israeli attack on a UN school in Gaza that killed 10 people yesterday was "a moral outrage and a criminal act", according to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who called for those responsible for the "gross violation of international law" to be brought to account.

Hours later, Israel withdrew most of its troops from the Gaza Strip in an apparent winding down of the nearly month-long operation against Hamas that has left more than 1,800 Palestinians and 60 Israelis dead.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman, confirmed the bulk of ground troops had been pulled out of Gaza after the military concluded it had destroyed most of the tunnel network.

"We've caused substantial damage to this network to an extent where we have basically taken this huge threat and made it minimal," he said.

The army had thousands of troops in Gaza at the height of the operation.

But he added that Israel would continue to target Hamas' rocket-firing capabilities and its ability to infiltrate Israel.

The attack on the UN shelter was the seventh time it had been hit in the 27 days of the Gaza conflict.

The victims had all taken shelter in the schools after being instructed by the Israeli military to leave their homes. The latest deaths took place in Rafah, which has been subjected to a ferocious assault after Israel accused Hamas of kidnapping a soldier and killing two others in an ambush. Mr Ban called the Rafah attack a "moral outrage and a criminal act" and demanded a quick investigation, and the US State Department said Washington was "appalled" by the "disgraceful" attack.

The dead were among 118 reported killed yesterday by the Palestinian ministry of health.

Yesterday morning's blast, at the entrance of the Rafah Preparatory A Boys School, came as a group of boys and girls were gathered around a stall selling sweets and crisps.

Of the 10 dead, four were children aged between five and 12. Their bodies, wrapped in blankets, were laid on the pavement outside before being moved to a hospital. Some of the adults were in a food queue inside when the blast took place. The missile left a shallow indentation where it had hit the road, spraying shrapnel.

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