PALESTINIAN Legislative Council member Mustafa al-Barghouti challenged the head of the United Nations to personally go into Gaza, after Israel shelled the UN’s humanitarian aid headquarters there yesterday.
‘This is where the onslaught has to be witnessed and to discuss the prospects of a de-escalation following the previously ignored UN Security Council Resolution. Without punishment action against Israel, they will not stop,’ Barghouti said.
The UN relief agency UNRWA said three Israeli shells struck their headquarters in Gaza City, injuring three workers.
The compound includes the UNRWA offices, warehouses and a school. As many as 700 Palestinians had taken refuge in the compound, which was in flames.
Israeli ground forces backed by tanks invaded Gaza City from the south yesterday morning, while warplanes bombed the city centre, causing thousands to flee their homes, on the 20th day of aggression.
Witnesses said tanks had reached Awan Street, the farthest Israeli forces have entered since invading the Gaza Strip.
In the Tel Al-Hawa neighbourhood, fire engulfed the administration building, a storehouse and pharmacy at Al-Quds Hospital.
Dr Bashar Murad, the head of emergency services, said three Israeli missiles hit the hospital, two of them containing white phosphorus.
The UNRWA building was also hit by white phosphorus shells, officials said.
The attacks took place despite reports that progress had been made in Egyptian efforts to broker a ceasefire.
CARE International also said it was forced to cancel distribution of aid as bombs fell around its stores.
Israeli forces also attacked a media compound home to the Reuters news agency, NBC, and a number of Arab networks in Gaza City.
Mustafa al-Barghouti said: ‘Israel is aiming to hide its crimes that it is carrying out in Gaza, hiding its massacres from media outlets.’
Further south, Israeli forces surrounded the Al-Aqsa Hospital. ‘No one is able to get in or out,’ said volunteer Sharon Lock.
Palestinian students from the West Bank donated blood as the number of confirmed dead in Gaza rose to more than 1,000, with the numbers wounded reaching almost 5,000, while judges in the West Bank went on strike.
Meeting Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Tel Aviv, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said the death toll in Gaza was ‘unbearable’.
The UN chief said he conveyed ‘my strong protest and outrage to the defence minister and the foreign minister and demanded a full explanation’ of the attack on UNRWA headquarters.
‘The defence minister said to me it was a grave mistake and he took it very seriously,’ he added.
Last week Israeli forces shelled an UNRWA school in Jabaliya, killing more than 40 Palestinian civilians.
The UN chief planned to meet Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah, but is refusing to meet with Hamas and is not planning to visit the Gaza Strip.