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'Israel has exhausted military option,' Peres says

Tags: News Operation Protective Edge; Israel-Gaza conflict;Shimon Peres; UNWRA; IDF
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Tanks in action in Gaza. [ISRAEL SUN PHOTO]

Former Israeli president Shimon Peres called on the Israeli government to seek a diplomatic solution to the Gaza crisis, and to ensure return of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority.

“Israel has exhausted the military option,” Peres said today after visiting wounded Israeli soldiers at Soroka Medical Center in Be’ersheva.

Peres said Gaza should be returned to the authority of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

“Gaza was taken from President Mahmoud Abbas [in a coup],” Peres told journalists outside of the hospital. “He is the only one with international recognition and who is a legitimate leader. The right thing to do is to return Gaza to Abbas and save it.”

Peres asserted that Abbas “can save Gaza, with the help of Egypt and the Arab world.””

He added that the “entire world needs to rehabilitate Gaza.”

Peres called the current conflict in Gaza “a war of the army against terrorism, but also a war of every soldier against a person who doesn’t respect human life, who is ready to murder. A war of brave people against people who have no restraints. Wicked people who don’t have pity even on themselves.”

He extolled the bravery of all of the Israeli soldiers fighting in Gaza.

On Wednesday morning, at least 15 Palestinians were killed in shelling on a United Nations school in the Jabaliya refugee camp, which is serving as a shelter for Gazans displaced from their homes in the current conflict.

The shelling occurred on the school in Gaza City, where 3,300 people have taken shelter, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. (UNRWA). It is the sixth time that a UN school has been hit in the current conflict, according to the UNRWA.

Israel Defence Forces (IDF)  spokespersons have told reporters that initial reports show that Israeli soldiers came under fire from the area of the school and fired mortar shells back at the source of the attack.

The UNRWA said in a statement that after gathering evidence at the site in the hours after the incident, its initial assessment is that Israeli artillery hit the school.

“I condemn in the strongest possible terms this serious violation of international law by Israeli forces,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said in the statement. “I call on the international community to take deliberate international political action to put an immediate end to the continuing carnage.”

“Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN-designated shelter in Gaza. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced,” Krahenbuhl said.

Meanwhile, a stockpile of weapons was discovered at a third United Nations school in the Gaza Strip.

The rockets were discovered Tuesday, UNRWA said in a statement, according to the Times of Israel, which reported that the incident was not publicized by UNRWA on its website or official Twitter feed, or that of its spokesperson.

The school was closed for the summer and not being used as a shelter, and the rockets were discovered during what the UNRWA called a routine inspection of the premises.

The Palestinian death toll in Israel’s 23-day operation in Gaza stands at more than 1,280 according to Gaza’s health ministry.

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