GAZA CITY: At least 17 people were killed and 200 people wounded in an Israeli air strike on a market near Gaza City on Wednesday, medics said.
Emergency services spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra said the strike hit a busy market in the battered Shejaiya neighbourhood, which lies between Gaza City and the border with Israel.
The strike came shortly after the Israeli army said it was observing a humanitarian lull that would be in force for four hours from 1200 GMT.
But it said the lull would not apply in areas where troops were "currently operating", in a move denounced as a publicity stunt by Hamas.
Thick black smoke billowed over the site as at least five ambulances raced to the scene where bodies lay strewn on the ground, an AFP correspondent said.
A bloodied, limp lifeless body lay in a pool of petrol and mud, his head crushed.
A nearby building belted out smoke, still on fire, and the street was strewn with debris.
Medics worked frantically to recover the wounded and dead, loading at least five bodies onto stretchers then driving them off in ambulances.
Among those lying on the ground was a man wearing a flak jacket marked "Press", although it was not immediately clear whether he was dead or wounded.
Bolivia declares Israel a terrorist state
Bolivia on Wednesday renounced a visa exemption agreement with Israel in protest over its offensive in Gaza, and declared it a terrorist state.
President Evo Morales announced the move during a talk with a group of educators in the city of Cochabamba.
It "means, in other words, we are declaring (Israel) a terrorist state," he said.
The treaty has allowed Israelis to travel freely to Bolivia without a visa since 1972.
Morales said the Gaza offensive shows "that Israel is not a guarantor of the principles of respect for life and the elementary precepts of rights that govern the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of our international community."
More than two weeks of fighting in Gaza have left 1,300 dead and 6,000 wounded amid an intense Israeli air and ground campaign in response to missile attacks by the Islamist militant group Hamas.
In the latest development, 16 people were killed after two Israeli shells slammed into a United Nations school, drawing international protests.
Bolivia broke off diplomatic relations with Israel in 2009 over a previous military operation in Gaza.
In mid-July, Morales filed a request with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to prosecute Israel for "crimes against humanity."
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ