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U.N. suspends aid work in Gaza
* Story Highlights
* NEW: U.N. secretary-general says Israelis fired on U.N. aid convoy
* NEW: Aid suspension comes after Israeli shell reportedly kills two U.N.
* U.N. Relief and Works Agency says Israel must guarantee safety of staff
* Israeli, Hamas officials in Cairo, Egypt, but won't meet
GAZA CITY, Gaza (CNN) -- Israeli forces fired on a U.N. aid convoy Thursday in
Gaza, killing two aid workers, during a three-hour truce that Israel set up to
allow humanitarian aid to reach civilians, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
"Since the conflict began 13 days ago, four UNRWA local staff have been
killed," according to a statement from Ban's representative referring to the
U.N. Relief and Works Agency.
"The U.N. is in close touch with the Israeli authorities about a full
investigation of this and other incidents, and about the need for urgent
measures to avoid them in the future."
As a result of Thursday's fatal attack on its aid convoy, the U.N. relief
agency will suspend activities in Gaza until the Israeli military can guarantee
the safety of its staff, said the agency's chief spokesman, Chris Gunness, in
The humanitarian agency provides food and relief supplies to about 80 percent
of Gaza's 1.5 million people. At least 50 trucks carrying humanitarian goods
and diesel fuel crossed into Gaza on Thursday. VideoImages emerge of Israeli
troops in Gaza »
A spokeswoman for the Israeli military said it is not aware of the attack near
the Erez Crossing but said Hamas militants sometimes have targeted U.N. aid
trucks to take food.
The Red Cross said Thursday that Israeli forces also fired on one of its
convoys in Gaza but no one was hurt.
Israeli artillery and missiles have struck three U.N. schools in Gaza this
week. More than 40 civilians were killed in a strike Tuesday on a U.N. school
in Jabalya that was being used as a shelter. Three people were killed in
airstrike Monday on a school shelter in Gaza City.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israeli forces fired on
Hamas militants in "the immediate vicinity" of the Jabalya school. Gunness
vehemently denied any militants were inside the school and demanded that Israel
agree to an impartial investigation.
Violence again interrupted a three-hour humanitarian truce Thursday afternoon.
Fighting also marred a similar pause Wednesday.
Large explosions could be heard Thursday from central Gaza as well as
small-arms fire from northern Gaza, CNN's Ben Wedeman reported from along the
Also, Israeli armored bulldozers demolished a home in Gaza "just as the lull
was supposed to go into effect," he said.
The Israeli military has not commented on the house demolition but defended the
use of weapons during the truce hours.
"If Hamas takes advantage of the cease-fire and keeps on fighting ... that
doesn't mean we'll endanger our soldiers," said Palmor, the Israeli Foreign
Ministry spokesman. "If we're fired at, we'll need to respond."
Meanwhile, an Israeli delegation is in Cairo, Egypt, to consider a plan
brokered by Egypt and France that would lead to a permanent cease-fire and
address both sides' concerns.
Egyptian media reported that two Hamas representatives are in Cairo to "listen"
to the Egyptian plan. They are not expected to meet with the Israeli diplomats.
The Israeli military said its operation, which began December 27, is aimed at
halting the firing of rockets into southern Israel by Hamas. But militants have
continued to fire rockets and mortar shells, including at least 16 Thursday.
Overnight, the Israeli air force launched strikes against about 60 targets in
the Palestinian territory, a military spokesman said Thursday.
Separately, four rockets fired from southern Lebanon landed near the northern
Israeli city of Nahariya, leaving two people with minor injuries. The Israeli
military returned fire across the border. There was no immediate claim of
responsibility. VideoWatch CNN's Christiane Amanpour discuss the rocket attacks
Palestinian medical sources said Thursday that the death toll from the Israeli
incursion has reached 763, with more than 3,200 injured.
An Israeli army officer was killed Thursday during a firefight in central Gaza,
and a soldier was shot to death Thursday afternoon in northern Gaza, the
Israeli military said.
Nine Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in the operation,
the Israeli military reported.
CNN's Talal Abu Rahma, Michal Zippori and Ben Brumfield contributed to this
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