Monday, January 19, 2009
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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Israeli artillery shells struck the U.N. headquarters in the on Thursday, setting a food warehouse ablaze and drawing a sharp rebuke from the visiting U.N. chief who called it an "outrage." Another Israeli bombardment killed Hamas' head of security.
The attack added to a day of deadly chaos pitting Israeli troops against Islamic militants. Terrified residents huddled in shelters and stairwells, or scooped up toddlers and fled on foot.
After nightfall, shells landed near Gaza City's Quds Hospital, where many families had sought refuge, and the building caught fire, forcing staff to evacuate hundreds of people. According to a hospital medic, some patients were pushed down the street on gurneys; a few held white flags.
The destruction added to what aid groups say is a humanitarian crisisin Gaza and ratcheted up tensions between and the international community even as diplomats indicated progress in cease-fire talks.
was departing Thursday night for Washington to discuss a Gaza cease-fire with . The United States and Egypt have been working to forge an agreement to end 20 days of bitter fighting.
The U.N. compound, made up of workshops and warehouses as well as offices, was struck about a half-dozen times over a roughly two-hour period while more than 700 civilians were sheltering there, said John Ging, head of Gaza operations for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency.