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Published: Monday August 4, 2014 MYT 2:40:04 AM
Updated: Monday August 4, 2014 MYT 2:40:04 AM

U.S. calls shelling outside U.N. school in Gaza 'disgraceful'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States criticized the "disgraceful shelling" at a U.N. school in Gaza on Sunday and urged Israel to do more to prevent civilian casualties in its war against Hamas militants.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki also called for an investigation into attacks on U.N. schools in densely populated Gaza.

"The United States is appalled by today's disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA school in Rafah sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons, in which at least ten more Palestinian civilians were tragically killed," Psaki said in a statement.

Psaki urged Israel again to live up to its own standards of avoiding civilian casualties as the conflict in the Hamas-controlled Gaza stretched into its 27th day.

On Wednesday, at least 15 Palestinians who sought refuge in a U.N.-run school in Jabalya refugee camp were killed during fighting, and the United Nations said Israeli artillery had apparently hit the building. The Israeli military said gunmen had fired mortar bombs from near the school and it shot back in response.

Psaki said U.N. facilities should not be used as bases from which to launch attacks.

"The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians," she added.

The fighting on Sunday pushed the Gaza death toll given by Palestinian officials to 1,775, most of them civilians. Israel has confirmed that 64 soldiers have died in combat, while Palestinian rockets have killed three civilians in Israel.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jim Loney and Mohammad Zargham)

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