UN: No Militants in Shelled School

Mortar may have been fired from nearby grove
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 7, 2009 10:06 AM CST
Palestinians pray over the bodies of people killed near a United Nations school yesterday, during their funeral in the Jebaliya refugee camp today.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The UN says it found no evidence to support claims there were militants inside the UN-run school Israeli forces fired on yesterday in Gaza, killing 40 civilians and injuring 55 more, Time reports. Israeli Defense Forces “returned fire,” a spokesman said, after militants fired mortars from inside the girls’ elementary school, in which some 400 people from the nearby refugee camp had taken shelter.

But after investigating, “we’re 99% sure that no militants were at the school,” a UN spokesman countered. Some refugees say they saw militants firing mortars nearby and running away; one Gaza resident said a nearby citrus grove might’ve provided cover. But Israel insists the mortars came from inside the crowded schoolyard, and that Hamas was using the civilians as shields.