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UN Agency Suspends Aid in Gaza Citing Israeli Danger


The United Nations aid agency in Gaza says it has suspended operations because of the danger posed by the Israeli military.

The announcement today, Thursday came several hours after an attack on a U.N. aid convoy in the north of the Palestinian territory. The U.N. says two contract workers with its Relief and Works Agency were killed. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack and called for an immediate cease-fire. Officials say the movement of the convoy had been coordinated in advance with the Israeli military. Israeli officials say they are investigating the incident. It came on the 13th day of Israel's offensive against Hamas, which controls the Palestinian territory.

U.N. humanitarian affairs chief John Holmes says the situation in Gaza is even more critical than before. He told reporters today that the Ministry of Health in the densely-populated region reports 758 people have been killed -- a third of them children. Holmes says that number could not be independently verified but was in general credible. The percentage of children killed has risen from an earlier U.N. estimate of about 25 percent. Also today, the International Committee of the Red Cross accused the Israeli military of failing to meet its obligations under international humanitarian law, delaying efforts to help the wounded in Gaza.

The group says a rescue team was refused access to Gaza City's beleaguered Zaytun neighborhood for days. When Israeli forces let them in Wednesday during a three-hour break in attacks, the Red Cross says rescuers found four small children, too weak to stand, next to their dead mothers. The group says, in that one house, there were at least 12 corpses. An Israeli military spokeswoman told al-Jazeera her country would look into the matter.In a separate development, at least three rockets were fired into northern Israel from Lebanon.Officials say the rockets fell on Thursday in and around the town of Nahariya, in northern Israel, slightly wounding two people. One rocket damaged a nursing home. Israel returned fire in the direction of the attack.

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