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Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - Updated: 9:12 AM

Israeli tank shells slam into UN school in Gaza, kill 15

JEBALIYA REFUGEE CAMP, Gaza Strip (AP) -- Israeli tank shells slammed into a crowded U.N. school today sheltering Gazans displaced by fighting, killing 15 and wounding 90 after tearing through the walls of two classrooms, a spokesman for a U.N. aid agency and a health official said.

The relentless bombardment also killed 27 Palestinians elsewhere in the coastal territory today, further dimming hopes of a sustainable cease-fire.

The strike at the U.N. school in the Jebaliya refugee camp came amid Israel's heaviest air and artillery assault in more than three weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting.

The Israeli military said it is looking into the incident. Its campaign escalated on Tuesday, with airstrikes destroying key symbols of Hamas power, including the home of the top Hamas leader. Gaza's only power plant was shut down after shells set its fuel tank on fire.

Today, Israeli aircraft struck dozens of Gaza sites, including five mosques it said were being used by militants, while several other areas came under tank fire.

Russia's central bank promises support for targets of sanctions

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's central bank promised to support financial institutions hit by U.S. sanctions as stocks took a tumble in Moscow today.

In an online statement, the bank promised to "take adequate measures" to support targeted institutions. Russia's state-owned VTB bank -- Russia's second-largest -- was down 0.5 percent this morning.

Other major banks that were left unscathed by sanctions -- such as the country's largest, Sberbank -- were trading higher. Russia's MICEX benchmark index added 2.3 percent from its previous closing.

U.S. officials said Tuesday that roughly 30 percent of Russia's banking sector assets are now constrained by sanctions.

The move comes after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine. Western officials accuse pro-Russian separatists of bringing down the plane with a missile supplied by Moscow.

Rights group: Syria using barrel bombs, defying UN

BEIRUT (AP) -- The Syrian government is still indiscriminately bombing civilians with explosives-filled barrels in defiance of a U.N. Security Council resolution, an international human rights group said today.

Human Rights Watch's statement came as the Security Council is expected to meet later in the day for a fifth round of reporting on the resolution.

February's resolution demanded a halt to all attacks against civilians and indiscriminate shelling and aerial bombardment -- including the use of so-called barrel bombs -- in populated areas.

The New York-based group has documented over 650 strikes on rebel-held neighborhoods in the northern city of Aleppo since the resolution's adoption. It noted in the report that opposition fighters also carry out indiscriminate attacks, including mortar strikes and car bombings.

The crude weapons -- barrels packed with explosives and scraps of metal and pushed out of helicopters -- cannot be precisely targeted, and have caused widespread civilian casualties.

Barrel bombs on Aleppo have killed more than 2,000 people this year, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists inside the war-torn country.

     

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