The Four Worst Gaza Atrocities: The Blame Game

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Palestinians flee the scene from what medics said was Israeli shelling, near a market in Shejaia in the east of Gaza City on July 30, 2014. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

The death toll in Gaza continues to rise since Israel began Operation Protective Edge on July 8. More than 1,200 Palestinians have been killed, around 74 percent of them civilians, including 243 children and 131 women, the BBC reports. On the other side, 55 Israelis are dead, 53 of them members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) -- and one Thai national.

In several of the attacks in which civilians have died, neither side has taken responsibility and there is no clear evidence whose rockets or shells caused the deaths.

So here are four hotly disputed incidents and who said what about who was behind them.

1. An attack on a United Nations-run school, July 30

The Jabalia Elementary Girls School in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza was sheltering evacuees when it came under fire, leaving 20 dead and wounded dozens of others.It is the sixth UN-run facilities to be hit in the three weeks of fighting. NBC News reports that 15 people were killed and 90 were wounded. The Washington Post laid the blame at the Israeli’s door, saying IDF artillery shelled the building.

Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) , called the attack today a “breaking point” and said that the situation in Gaza has “moved beyond the realm of humanitarian action alone.” UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness told the BBC his organization had repeatedly asked the Israeli army not to target the school, where “children were killed as they slept next to their parents.” He broke down on television when recounting the school shelling.

The Israelis said:

The Israeli military said that “mortar shells had been fired near the school, and that soldiers fired back,” reports NBC news. The BBC interviewed IDF spokesman Peter Lerner, who echoes that version of events. The Washington Post reports that the Israeli military are now investigating the incident.

“The inquiry concluded that during the intense fighting between IDF forces and Hamas militants, the militants operated adjacent to the UNRWA school,” the IDF said in a statement,after an investigation they conducted into the attack. The IDF say they do not intentionally target international organizations in the Gaza Strip.

The UNRWA said:

We have visited the site and gathered evidence. We have analysed fragments, examined craters and other damage. Our initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery that hit our school, in which 3,300 people had sought refuge. We believe there were at least three impacts.”

2. An attack on a street market, July 30

A crowded street market in Shajaiya, Gaza was attacked today killing 16, including a Palestinian journalist, and injuring more than 15, The Telegraph reports, with the Palestinian Red Crescent confirming the death toll.

(Video is available on The Telegraph website. Be warned, it is graphic.)

The Israelis said:

They are investigating. Tweets from the official IDF account, published around the time of this morning’s attacks, said that a three-hour humanitarian window in Gaza today did not apply to areas where the IDF was already operating, and that residents that were asked to evacuate certain of areas in Gaza “must not return.” The tweet also said, “IDF will respond to any attempt to attack Israel.”

Hamas said:

“The Israelis are committing a deliberate act of revenge and mass murder,” according to a statement by Hamas, translated from the Arabic by Al Jazeera.

3. An attack on Shifa Hospital and Shati refugee camp, July 28

Shifa hospital is the largest medical complex in the Gaza Strip. As reports emerge that a Hamas bunker may exist below it, it’s also one of the most contested battle sites. On July 28, a rocket attack struck the hospital compound and a playground in Shati refugee camp, killing 10, most of them children, Al Jazeera reports.

The Israelis said:

Rockets fired by Hamas failed and fell short, landing near the hospital, according to Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israel Defence Forces, who added that the IDF had no activity in the area. The IDF published maps showing the trajectory of the Hamas rockets.

Hamas said:

Israel was responsible for the air strikes and Palestinian police say that shrapnel found on the bodies of victims proves this. Hamas called it “categorically an airstrike by Israel,” Al Jazeera reports.

4. An attack on a UN-run school in Beit Hanoun, July 24

A school run by UNRWA was hit, killing more than 16 and wounding 150 sheltering there, Al Jazeera reports.

The Israelis said:

“Several rockets launched from Gaza toward Israel fell short and hit Beit Hanoun” following days of reported rocket fire from Hamas in Beit Hanoun, an IDF statement said. “The preliminary inquiry and footage indicate that a single errant mortar landed in the courtyard of the UNRWA school, when it was completely empty.” The IDF also said Hamas had spent several days firing rockets from the area where the UNRWA shelter is located.

The Palestinians said:

"All the testimonies of the wounded, witnesses, paramedics and doctors confirm that the Israeli shells are the cause of this massacre," Saed al-Saoudi, a commander of the Civil Defence in Gaza, told Associated Press. Palestinian officials said three Israeli tank shells hit the school, according to the BBC.

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