On Wednesday more than 100 Palestinians were killed in the bomb-scarred Gaza Strip, among them victims of Israeli fire on a crowded market and a United Nations school.
The United States and United Nations condemned the school shelling and Hamas said it fired a salvo of rockets into Israel in retaliation for both attacks.
But hours after its condemnation the US said it had agreed to sell Israel fresh ammunition to replenish its dwindling supplies.
At least 17 people were killed in the strike on the market in Shejaiya, near Gaza City, as Israel observed a four-hour humanitarian lull in other parts of the crowded coastal strip.
At least 200 people were wounded in the strike, medics said, on a day that saw at least 111 people killed.
Hamas said on Wednesday it fired rockets at Tel Aviv and the southern port city of Ashkelon in response to the market and school strikes. The Israeli military said that a rocket hit open ground “in the Tel Aviv area” and another two were intercepted over Ashkelon.
It said that a total of 81 rockets fell in Israel on Wednesday, with another nine shot down by missile defences and that Israel hit 88 targets in Gaza.
Israel had said its truce, which began at 3pm local time, would not apply in places were troops were “currently operating”, hours after the army made what it called a “significant advance” into the narrow coastal strip.
Hamas denounced the four-hour lull as a publicity stunt, saying it had “no value”.
The market strike came hours after Israeli shells slammed into a UN school in Jabalia refugee camp sheltering some 3,300 homeless Gazans, killing 16 and drawing a furious response from the United Nations.
“This morning a UN school sheltering thousands of Palestinian families suffered a reprehensible attack,” UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on a visit to Costa Rica.
“It is unjustifiable, and demands accountability and justice.”
The attack was also denounced by the White House in a carefully worded statement that avoided mentioning Israel.
“The United States condemns the shelling of a UNRWA school in Gaza, which reportedly killed and injured innocent Palestinians, including children, and UN humanitarian workers,” a statement said.
The Pentagon later said it had granted an Israeli request for ammunition, including some from a stockpile stored by the US military on the ground in Israel for emergency use by the Jewish state.
Rights group Amnesty International had urged Washington to halt arms supplies to Israel. [ scmp.com ]