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Ear to the Ground

U.S. Says Gaza School Attack ‘Totally Unacceptable’ but Restocks Ammo

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Posted on Jul 31, 2014

    A youth walks by debris and displaced Palestinians in a classroom at the Abu Hussein U.N. school in a Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday. AP/Lefteris Pitarakis

The White House condemned the deadly shelling by Israel of a U.N.-designated girls’ elementary school in Gaza as the Pentagon confirmed it recently restocked Israel’s ammunition supplies.

The attack killed 16 Palestinians on Wednesday. Some 3,300 civilians had taken shelter at the school after Israel told them to evacuate their homes. After Israel took responsibility for the shelling, President Obama’s press secretary Thursday criticized the attack as “totally unacceptable” and “totally indefensible.” He added: “It is clear that we need our allies in Israel to do more to live up to the high standards they have set themselves.”

The spokeswoman for the White House’s National Security Council initially had said there were conflicting reports about who was responsible for the attack. She did not specify the nature of the confusion, however. On Thursday The Guardian reported:

US officials had initially declined to apportion blame for the shelling, even though the UN said all of the evidence pointed to Israel. On Thursday, after Israel conceded it was operating in the area and said it was possible that “stray Israeli fire” hit the school and killed 16 Palestinians, the White House shifted its stance.

The Guardian said on Wednesday:

Washington’s implied condemnation of Israel marked the strongest language used by the US since the conflict in Gaza began. The US also strongly criticised the hiding of weapons at UN facilities in Gaza, although officials acknowledged they did not know if rockets had been stored at the UNRWA school.

Of the ammunition restocking, the paper wrote:

The Pentagon confirmed a CNN report that the US had recently provided Israel with a shipment of ammunition. “The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to US national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability,” said Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral Kirby. “This defense sale is consistent with those objectives.”

The Israeli military requested the addition ammunition on 20 July. The US defense department approved the sale three days later, Kirby said.

Read more here and here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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