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OPT: UN official 'saddened' by deaths, excessive force used in Gaza refugee camp

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Reacting to a recent incursion by the Israeli military into a Gaza refugee camp, which left 11 Palestinians dead, a top UN relief official in the region said today he was "deeply distressed and saddened" by the incident and by the indiscriminate and excessive use of force.
Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), noted that the eight-hour incursion that began shortly before midnight on 5 March was the second in as many days by Israeli forces into densely populated residential areas in refugee camps in the Gaza Strip.

Three of the 11 killed were youths under 15 years of age, and another 140 people were injured in the raid. The Agency said most of the deaths occurred when a tank shell was fired in broad daylight at a group of Palestinians attempting to put out a fire that was reportedly caused by Israeli forces.

"I am deeply distressed and saddened by the loss of life in Jabalya refugee camp, and by the indiscriminate and excessive use of force by the Israeli military in densely populated residential areas," Mr. Hansen said. "The relentless cycle of violence had only the day before claimed the lives of 15 Israelis, many of them children, in a suicide bombing on a bus in Haifa. With each succeeding attack and counter-attack, the will to peace is weakened, and the prospect of a just solution to the conflict made ever more tenuous."