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Israel closes file on deadly 2014 attack on UN-run school in Gaza

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Palestinians carry injured people following an Israeli military strike on a UN school in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 3, 2014. ©Reuters

The Israeli military says it has closed a file on its shelling of a United Nations school in the southern Gaza town of Rafah during Tel Aviv's 50-day war on the besieged territory in 2014.

The shelling of the school which sheltered more than 3,000 displaced Palestinians at the time of the aggression triggered international outcry and drew criticism from Israel's own allies including the US and France.

After conducting an investigation, the Israeli military issued a 21-page report on Wednesday, saying it was closing the file on the incident as well as on several other cases of military misconduct during the invasion. 

The report said no wrongdoing was found in the attack in which 10 women and children were killed as well as in other cases. 

Shells landed at the yard of the school where children and adults were clustered around the gates, buying biscuits and sweets from stalls set up by locals.

The Israeli report said the Military Advocate General’s examination concluded that proper procedures were followed in the shelling.

“MAG found that the targeting process in question accorded with Israeli domestic law and international law requirements,” it wrote.

“The decision to strike was taken by the competent authorities, and the object of the attack was lawful – military operatives,” it said, claiming that the military had spotted three Palestinian fighters near the school.

Smoke rises following an Israeli strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on August 3, 2014 ©AFP

The attack was strongly condemned by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who said the Israeli military had been repeatedly informed of the location of such sites, while the United States called it “disgraceful.”

French President Francois Hollande said the bombing was “unacceptable” and called for those responsible to “answer for their actions.”

An Israeli report, published in June 2015, defended the military's conduct in the invasion as both “lawful” and “legitimate,” while acknowledging that “numerous civilians were caught in the hostilities.”

The July-August 2014 Israeli invasion killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, mostly women and children and 73 Israelis, almost all soldiers, and destroyed or damaged thousands of homes in Gaza.

In the absence of justice, the Palestinians hope to pursue the cases in the International Criminal Court to which they signed up in April 2015. 

Several rights groups have accused Israel of using indiscriminate force against civilians and residential buildings, including UN facilities.

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