AP: Two residents saw Hamas firing mortars near UN school

No surprise. It’d take an “enlightened” progressive indeed to believe the IDF would lob artillery shells at a school just for giggles.

And so, as expected, the debate now shifts to “proportionality.”

Two residents of the area who spoke by telephone said they saw a small group of militants firing mortar rounds from a street near the school, where 350 people had gathered to get away from the shelling. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal…

An Israeli defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to make the information public, said it appeared that the military used 120mm shells, among the largest mortar rounds

Two residents who spoke to an AP reporter by phone said the two brothers [jihadis killed at the scene] were known to be low-level Hamas militants. They said a group of militants — one of them said four — were firing mortar shells from near the school.

An Israeli shell targeted the men, but missed and they fled, the witnesses said, refusing to allow their names to be published because they feared for their safety. Then another three shells landed nearby, exploding among civilians, they said.

Palestinian militants have frequently fired from residential areas in the past.

Reactions all around are perfectly predictable. Egypt’s trying to capitalize on the fallout by pressuring Israel into a ceasefire, although there are whispers among the IDF brass that the operation might actually widen to include southern Gaza in the next few days. The Guardian, fretful that Israel could succeed in dislodging Hamas from power, warns that whatever replaces them in the strip will certainly be worse even though that’s, er, not certain at all, especially with Fatah poised to move back in. And the UN is naturally outraged at Israel’s shelling of the school — “totally unacceptable,” said Ban Ki-Moon, according to the AP — but conspicuously less outraged that jihadists are using their facilities as a mortar firing platform. The Israeli leadership’s ready for them this time: According to Haaretz, they’re considering filing a complaint at Turtle Bay over Hamas’s use of an international facility for terrorism.

Here’s the official statement on the incident from Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, futilely trying to explain whose fault it is that so many Palestinians get caught in crossfire.

Update: The Guardian’s trying to figure out why so many Palestinian kids fetishize martyrdom. Oddly enough, Islamic fundamentalism and the endless stream of vicious anti-semitic propaganda on Palestinian TV don’t seem to weigh heavily in their reasoning.

Update: Hiding weapons in UN schools is an old standard from the jihadist songbook, apparently.