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JERUSALEM — The Israeli military struck near a United Nations school in Gaza on Tuesday, killing at least 30 people among hundreds who had sought refuge at the school from the fighting in the beleaguered territory, the United Nations and hospital officials in Gaza said.

The officials said those killed included men, women and children. The Israeli military, in a statement, confirmed it had carried out a mortar attack on the school, saying an initial investigation suggested its forces had responded to mortar fire coming from the school.

The United Nations has opened its schools in Gaza to provide shelter and gave the Israelis the coordinates of those locations. John Ging of the United Nations relief agency said.

Barack Obama, the United States president-elect, broke his silence about the Israeli assault on Gaza on Tuesday, saying “the loss of civilian life in Gaza and in Israel is a source of deep concern for me.» He did not comment more, repeating his statement that the United States has only one president at a time.

The number of those killed at the United Nations school could not be immediately independently confirmed.

According to Mr. Ging, 30 people had been killed in the strike near the school, where 350 people were taking shelter and which is in Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza. Another 55 were injured, five of them critically, he said. Most of the casualties occurred outside the school rather than in the building itself, Mr. Ging said, describing the neighborhood as a built-up area.

But in Gaza, three hospital officials at Shifa hospital, where some of the wounded from the school were taken, said at least 42 people were killed and that the number of dead was likely to rise. Despite mounting diplomatic pressure to end its offensive in Gaza, Israel’s military onslaught unfolded for an 11th day on Tuesday. Since launching its ground offensive, Israel has killed 130 Hamas fighters, Israeli officials say. Hamas has killed five Israelis by rocket fire and in combat. Palestinian medical officials on Tuesday estimated that the death toll during the 11-day war exceeded 560, and the United Nations said that about a quarter of those killed were civilians.

Israel has been criticized in the past for the inaccuracy of its shelling. The Israeli Army has repeatedly emphasized that its operation is not aimed at Gaza’s residents, amid sensitivity to deep opposition worldwide to the toll on civilians in Gaza.

But parts of Gaza, a narrow coastal strip with a population of 1.5 million, are among the most densely crowded areas in the world, and artillery and tank fire can easily cause collateral damage. In November 2006, Israel all but stopped firing tank and artillery shells into Gaza after 18 Palestinian civilians, most from one family, were killed by Israeli shells that missed their target and hit a row of houses in Beit Hanoun.

In another strike, during its conflict with Hezbollah in July 2006, Israel suspended air attacks in southern Lebanon for 48 hours after one of its air strikes on the southern town of Qana left dozens of civilians, many of them children, dead.

On Tuesday, the Israeli Army would not confirm reports that its ground troops were pushing further south through Gaza toward Khan Yunis, the territory’s second city. The Israelis had been concentrating their massive firepower in the north of Gaza.

A rocket fired by Hamas from Gaza fell in the Israeli town of Gadera, less than 20 miles south of Tel Aviv and the furthest north that any of the hundreds of missiles fired from Gaza has yet struck since the Israeli offensive began, the Israeli Army said. Amid the fighting within Gaza, four Israeli soldiers were killed by shells from their own tanks, the first Israeli deaths from so-called “friendly fire” in the conflict.

As the diplomatic pressure on Israel intensified, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is touring the region in quest of a truce, met with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria in Damascus. Mr. Sarkozy sought to enlist Syria, a key backer of Hamas, in maneuvers toward a cease-fire. But while the French leader launched an impassioned plea for an end to the fighting, describing it as “unbearable,” Mr. Assad accused Israel of committing a war crime by invading Gaza and said it would pay “the highest price.”

The Israeli campaign has not proceeded without mishaps for Israel, which said on Tuesday that four of its soldiers in Gaza were killed by shells from their own tanks. The Israeli Army said three Israeli soldiers were killed by tank fire directed at a building they had occupied in northern Gaza, and a fourth soldier was killed in a separate incident, also apparently caused by a tank shell.

Defying Israeli and international demands, Hamas militants in Gaza fired more rockets into Israel Tuesday, one of them falling in Gadera.

The location was significant to many Israelis since Gadera, about 25 miles north of Gaza, is perceived as being linked to Tel Aviv, meaning that central Israel may now be vulnerable to Hamas rockets along with the southern cities that have borne the brunt of the missile fire. Shrapnel from the attack slightly injured a three-month-old baby, the army said.

Since the operation began, Israeli officials in Washington said, the number of rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza has fallen to about 20 a day from a peak of 80 on Christmas Day.

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