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Amid Confusion, 17 Killed By Shelling At Market In Gaza

It may have been a tragic case of confusion.

The Israeli Defense Forces declared a four-hour humanitarian cease-fire on Wednesday. But the army said it did not apply where soldiers were already engaged and that residents who had evacuated should not return to those areas.

According to Gaza's health ministry, at least 17 Palestinians were killed and as many as 200 wounded when shells hit a street market in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, "which residents thought was temporarily safe but which the Israelis considered part of an active combat zone," The New York Times reports.

More than 1,300 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed during the 23-day old conflict. Israel has lost 56 soldiers and three civilians.

The Israeli army said that Hamas fired dozens of rockets into Israel Wednesday, reporting no injuries or damage. Hamas said the number was far fewer.

Israel's Security Cabinet met for four hours on Wednesday and ordered the army to continue its offensive in Gaza. An Israeli official told the Jerusalem Post that the operation has led to "significant achievements on the ground" and is damaging Hamas' "strategic apparatus."

As we reported earlier, at least 20 people were killed, according to Palestinian health officials, when a shell struck a United Nations-run school Wednesday morning in Gaza.

Both the U.N. and the White House have condemned that attack.

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