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Israeli Army 2nd. Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23. / AP

GAZA CITY - Israel's military said it was suspending most fire for seven hours after a Gaza health official said a strike near a United Nations school on Sunday killed 10 people.

Israel said a "humanitarian window" beginning at 10 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET) Monday does not apply to areas where troops are still operating.

Israel withdrew most of its ground troops from the Gaza Strip on Sunday in an apparent winding down of the operation against Hamas, though fighting continued in parts of Gaza.

Israel said it would respond to any attacks during the suspension of fighting.

Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said an additional 35 people were wounded after the hit near a boys' school sheltering Gazans displaced by the 27-day conflict in the southern town of Rafah.

The Israeli military said that it had targeted three wanted militants on a motorcycle in the vicinity and was "reviewing the consequences of this strike."

The United States said that it is "appalled" by the "disgraceful" shelling of the U.N. school sheltering about 3,000 people.

In language that was rare in its directness and severity, the U.S. noted that the school had been designated a protected location, and the Israel Defense Forces had been informed numerous times of the school's coordinates.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called on Israel to do "more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties."

The comments came after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the attack "a moral outrage and a criminal act."

"(The attack) is yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law, which clearly requires protection by both parties of Palestinian civilians, U.N. staff and U.N. premises, among other civilian facilities," he said.

Israel accuses Hamas of using civilian areas for cover and says the militant group is responsible for the heavy death toll because it has been using civilians as "human shields."

Israel said that it attacked 63 sites Sunday and that nearly 100 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman, said, "We have indeed scaled down some of the presence and indeed urged Palestinians in certain neighborhoods to come back to their homes."

Several Israeli tanks and other vehicles were seen leaving Gaza after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested in a televised address late Saturday that Israel would reassess operations after demolishing the tunnel system it says Hamas uses to carry out attacks in Israel.

Netanyahu also warned in the address that Hamas would pay an "intolerable price" if rocket fire continued and that all options were still open.

More than 1,800 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed in nearly four weeks of fighting, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. At the same time, nearly 70 Israelis - almost all soldiers - have also died, according to the Israeli military. Some 250,000 people in Gaza have been forced to flee their homes, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

The Israeli military death toll rose to 64 after it announced Saturday that Hadar Goldin, 23, an infantry lieutenant feared captured in battle, was actually killed Friday in an ambush along with two other soldiers. The ambush shattered an hours-old, hard-won cease-fire and sparked heavy shelling that left dozens of Palestinians dead.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon revealed on his Facebook page Sunday that he is a distant relative of Goldin. About 15,000 people attended Goldin's funeral Sunday.

Some Israelis said they did not think Hamas will lay down its arms and that the government should continue its mission in Gaza to take out Hamas infrastructure.

Others said they simply want the fighting to end.

"It's a terrible situation for both Israelis and Palestinians, but we have more options, we have places where we can hide ?? in Gaza, people don't even have that," said Shira Bar, 19, of Jerusalem. "Hamas is doing terrible things to them, and it's doing terrible things to us, and our army is also doing terrible things ?? it's so complicated."

Hamas has said it will not stop fighting until Israel and Egypt lift a blockade on Gaza imposed after the group took power in 2007.

"I wish the war would end but there is so much violence, and people don't want to talk to each other," Bar added. "I don't want to be naive that it will end soon. I think both the Israeli government and Hamas are guilty, (responsible) for this war."

Abu Huzaifa, 40, a Hamas supporter, said if Israel wants the group to lay down its weapons it should "end its military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, releases all political prisoners from Israeli jails and allow the return of Palestinian refugees."

"Palestinian resistance was founded to resist the Israeli occupation of our land," Huzaifa said.

Kotsev reported from Istanbul. Contributing: Jennifer Collins from Berlin; Associated Press.



Copyright 2014USAToday

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