WASHINGTON: Amid the escalating death toll in Gaza, US officials finally sharpened their tone Wednesday condemning an attack on a UN school as patience with “crazy” Israeli criticism of would-be-peacemaker John Kerry snapped.
“Obviously nothing justifies the killing of innocent civilians seeking shelter in a UN facility,” deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf acknowledged, in some of the toughest US comments since the start of the 23-day fighting in the Gaza Strip.
But while both the White House and the State Department condemned the shelling of a UN-run school in the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza in which 16 Palestinians were killed, neither would assign blame to staunch US ally, Israel.
“Innocent Palestinians seeking refuge in these schools should not have shells dropped on them, should not come under attack,” Harf insisted, but despite heated exchanges with reporters she stressed “we don´t know for certain who shelled this school, we need to get all the facts.
Relations between Israel and its staunch ally the United States have plunged in recent days after Kerry returned from a mission to the Middle East to try to broker a ceasefire between the Israelis and Hamas militants.
Anonymous Israeli officials have hit out at Kerry´s truce proposal calling it “a strategic terrorist attack” and criticizing it for being a “Hamas wish-list” including moves to lift a long-standing Israeli blockade of Gaza while failing to address Israel´s security concerns, such as Hamas rocket fire and a network of underground tunnels.