Israel attacks Gaza convoy; UN chief condemns the attack

JERUSALEM - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack on a UN convoy that killed at least one person in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the 13th day of the deadly Israeli offensive, his spokesman said.

"The secretary-general condemns the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) firing on a United Nations aid convoy in Gaza," the spokesman said in a statement distributed in New York and Jerusalem.

"The UN is in close touch with the Israeli authorities about full investigation of this and other incidents, and about the need for urgent measures to avoid them in the future," the statement said.

"The secretary-general calls once again for an immediate ceasefire in order to facilitate full and unhindered humanitarian access, and to allow aid workers to work in safety to reach persons in need," it said.

One person was killed when a truck convoy on its way to pick up UN assistance was hit by two tank shells in northern Gaza, prompting the main UN agency in Gaza, UNRWA to suspend its operations in the territory.

"The inability of the UN to provide assistance in this worsening humanitarian crisis is unacceptable," Ban's spokesman said.

Ban had alreay said he was "deeply dimayed" by deadly Israeli strikes on Tuesday on three UNRWA schools in Gaza where families had sought shelter from the bitter fighting.

"These attacks by military forces which endanger UN facilities acting as places of refuge are totally unacceptable and must not be repeated," he said in a statement.

Forty-three people were killed by Israeli shells at a school in Jabaliya and five more died in the other attacks, Palestinian medics said.

Ban has said he would be travelling to the region next week to push for an end to the Gaza offensive.

"I intend to travel next week to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, and to regional capitals," Ban said on Tuesday during a UN Security Council debate on prospects for ending the deadly offensive.