Australia berates Israel over 'indefensible' attacks on United Nations schools in Gaza

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Australia's government has made its strongest criticism yet of its staunch ally Israel over the monthlong war in Gaza, with the Australian foreign minister calling the shelling of United Nations schools "indefensible."

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop welcomed the announcement of a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire to begin on Tuesday, and urged Israel to take all necessary steps to prevent civilian casualties.

Bishop said in a statement, "There have been a number of shocking incidents, including the indefensible shelling of three U.N. schools, all of which were sheltering civilians."

Australia's conservative government is a staunch ally of Israel, and angered Arab and Islamic countries in June by changing its description of East Jerusalem from "occupied" to "disputed."