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40 die in Israeli strike at school

Atul Aneja

Tel Aviv accused of using “unconventional weapons”

— Photos: AFP

INNOCENT VICTIMS: Palestinians hold the body of a girl found in the rubble of her destroyed house in a Gaza City neighbourhood on Tuesday.

DUBAI: Around 40 Palestinians were killed after Israeli tank shells exploded at a United Nations school in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday.

Eyewitnesses said two tank shells exploded outside the school, causing shrapnel injuries to people on either side of the building. Hundreds of Palestinians had sought refuge in the building to escape the fighting between Israeli soldiers and Hamas fighters.

After the explosions, several bodies lay scattered on the ground amid pools of blood. Several dozen people lay wounded, hospital sources said.

Israeli forces locked in combat in Gaza have been accused of using “unconventional weapons” during their operations. In an interview with Iran’s Press TV, Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor who arrived at Gaza’s Al Shifa hospital as a volunteer, said Israelis had used a tungsten alloy weapon that could generate pressure waves powerful enough to sever limbs.

“I can tell you that we have clear evidence that the Israelis are using a new type of very high explosive weapons which are called Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) and are made out of a tungsten alloy,” he said. He added that those in the proximity of an explosion of a weapon of this type were “cut in pieces”. “Almost all of the patients we have received have these severe amputations. They seem to have been affected by this kind of weapon,” Dr. Gilbert observed.

Dr. Gilbert pointed out that Israel first used DIME weapons in the 2006 Lebanon war. He added that “the injuries that we see in [Al] Shifa [Hospital] now, many of them I suspect and we all suspect are the effect of DIME weapons used by the Israelis.”

On Monday, John Holmes, the U.N. humanitarian chief said “cluster munitions are being used” during the conflict in Gaza. Cluster bombs break up on impact and release bomblets which cause extensive devastation by spreading over a large area.

At a press conference, he said that 25 per cent of those killed during fighting in Gaza were civilians. He added that Gaza’s health system was “increasingly precarious” as the number of dead and injured continued to swell.

“This is, in our view, a humanitarian crisis,” said Mr. Holmes.

“It’s very hard for me to see any other way you could describe it, given the conditions in which the population are living.” Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had earlier denied that there was a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

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