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Baby among nine dead as Israeli shell hits UN school in Gaza

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At least nine people were killed, including a baby, when an Israeli shell slammed into a UN-run school in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday, an AFP correspondent said.

Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra put the toll as high as 15 dead and dozens injured, with more bodies and wounded expected to arrive at nearby hospitals.

It was the latest in a number of Israeli strikes on schools and hospitals in the embattled Palestinian territory, as the death toll from a 17-day operation to halt rocket fire by Gaza militants topped 770.

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A spokesman for the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA separately confirmed “multiple dead and injured” at the school in Beit Hanun, which was being used as a shelter by hundreds of Palestinians fleeing a major Israeli operation in the area.

“Precise coordinates of the UNRWA shelter in Beit Hanun had been formally given to the Israeli army,” Chris Gunness said on his Twitter account.

AFP’s correspondent saw nine bodies, including those of a one-year-old child and his mother at a morgue in nearby Beit Lahiya.

Trails and splashes of blood could be seen at the site of the shelling.

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Another UN official told AFP that at around 2:50 pm (1150 GMT) a shell had landed “in or near” the school, adding that UNRWA had tried to ask people to leave shortly beforehand, fearing it might be a target.

“We were talking to the shelter asking them to leave, as we feared it was a potential target,” the official said.

Gunness said there had earlier been “firing around the compound,” and asked the army for time to evacuate civilians.

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“We’ve spent much of the day trying to negotiate or to coordinate a window so that civilians, including our staff, could leave.

“That was never granted… and the consequences of that appear to be tragic,” Gunness told AFP.

On Tuesday, an UNRWA school sheltering the displaced came under Israeli fire as a team was inspected damage from a day earlier.

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Israel’s military has also hit hospitals in Gaza, blaming resulting civilian deaths on Hamas, saying the Islamist movement uses innocents as “human shields”.

UNRWA last week slammed unknown militants for storing around 20 rockets in one of its schools.

A UN official told AFP that four schools had been hit in Israel’s latest operation to stamp out rocket fire from Gaza — the bloodiest campaign since 2009.

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Thirty-two Israelis soldiers have been killed in the army’s ground operation, and three civilians have died in Israel from rocket fire.


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James Mattis finally fires back at Trump in a surprisingly funny charity speech

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Former US defense secretary James Mattis said he was honored to be the "world's most overrated general" in a swipe at his former boss Donald Trump who insulted him earlier this week.

At a gala charity dinner in New York Thursday evening, Mattis told diners he had now "achieved greatness."

"I'm not just an overrated general. I am the greatest, the world's most overrated," he said.

"I'm honored to be considered that by Donald Trump because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress," he said.

"So I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals, and frankly that sounds pretty good to me," he said to laughter and applause at the annual Alfred E Smith Memorial Foundation dinner.

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‘We’ve entered a shame-free zone’: CNN’s Sciutto appalled by Trump’s ‘mind-boggling’ G7 corruption

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CNN's Jim Sciutto on Friday did not mince words when talking about President Donald Trump's decision to host next year's G7 summit at his own golf course in Doral, Florida.

During a segment about the president's multiple corruption scandals, Sciutto described Trump's G7 gambit as the president "explicitly, publicly steering a taxpayer-funded government contract to [his] own business." He then asked former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti to comment on why this scandal might get Trump into hot legal water.

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Deadly Turkey air strikes shatter Trump’s hours-old ‘ceasefire’ deal

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Deadly Turkish air strikes Friday shattered an hours-old US-brokered deal to stop Ankara's military offensive against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria.

The ceasefire announced late Thursday was meant to provide a pause for the evacuation of Kurdish fighters from the battleground border town of Ras al-Ain and other areas Turkey wants to control along its border with Syria.

The five-day suspension looked designed to help Turkey achieve its main territorial goals without fighting but its Syrian proxies continued to clash with Kurdish fighters Friday and an air strike killed five civilians.

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