Israel's 'apology' after shelling UN shelter building
UNRWA spokesman said after the shelling of the compound that the agency had put a hold on vehicle movements, but was not suspending aid operations.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak "apologised" to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday after Israeli forces shelled the main U.N. aid compound in the city of Gaza, Ban told reporters.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said its compound, where up to 700 Palestinians were being sheltered, was hit twice by fire and three staff members were injured.
Ban, visiting Israel as part of a diplomatic drive for a ceasefire in Gaza, said he had protested strongly to Barak, who "apologised" and told him it was a "grave mistake".
"I conveyed my strong protest and outrage to the defence minister and the foreign minister and demanded a full explanation," Ban said.
"The defence minister said to me it was a grave mistake and he took it very seriously. He assured me that extra attention will be paid to U.N. facilities and staff and this will not be repeated."
UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness said after the shelling of the compound that the agency had put a hold on vehicle movements, but was not suspending aid operations.
Israeli forces pushed deeper into Gaza city on Thursday and unleashed their heaviest shelling of its crowded neighbourhoods in three weeks of war.
Israel also hit a tower block that houses the offices of Reuters and several other media organisations, wounding a journalist for the Abu Dhabi television channel.
Israel killed at least 15 Palestinians and dozens of terrified residents, seen fleeing on foot while thousands more huddled in homes that provided precarious shelter.
The Palestinian death toll from the air-and-ground offensive has risen to more than 1,055, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.
A Palestinian rights group said 670 of the dead were civilians.
Ban said the death toll had reached "an unbearable point".
Reuters Last Mod: 15 Ocak 2009, 16:14