Israel reportedly strikes U.N. in Gaza


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel reportedly struck the United Nations headquarters in Gaza as Hamas stepped up rocket attacks on southern Israel.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a news conference following his meeting with Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni expressed his "strong protest and outrage" to Defense Minister Ehud Barak over Thursday’s strike on the U.N. compound. He said Barak characterized the attack as "a grave mistake."

Hundreds of people had taken shelter in the compound, which also houses the U.N.’s main aid supplies storehouse, according to reports.

Al Jazeera reported Thursday that Israel struck a hospital in Gaza City’s Tel Hawwa neighborhood, destroying its pharmacy, as well as a communications building that is home to Reuters and several Arab publications.

According to reports, Israeli tanks are pushing deeper into Gaza City. The Israeli army has not commented on troop maneuvers or positions.

Four Israelis were injured, two seriously including a 7-year-old boy, when a rocket hit a residential area in Beersheba late Thursday afternoon.

It was one of more than 25 rockets fired that day from Gaza at southern Israel, despite the fact that Hamas reportedly has approved in principle an Egyptian plan for a cease-fire. One long-range, Grad-type rocket struck an open area in Gedera, on the southern edge of central Israel.

Israel extended by one hour its daily humanitarian pause Thursday, to four hours, to allow Palestinian civilians to purchase supplies or change locations, and to allow aid convoys to enter the strip.

Livni also met Thursday with Jakob Kellenberger, the president of the International Red Cross, and pressed him to mention captive soldier Gilad Shalit in his public statements and demand that the Red Cross be allowed to visit him. Shalit is said to be held by Hamas in Gaza.

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