Israel pounds Gaza despite global efforts for ceasefire
JERUSALEM: Israel on Tuesday bombed several mosques, a
hospital and a stadium in the Hamas-ruled Gaza even as international efforts
intensified to broker a ceasefire to end the 15-day conflict that has killed
604 Palestinians and 29 Israelis.
As the death toll mounted, the US and the UN appealed
to both sides to end the hostilities that have claimed the live civilians,
including children. US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN chief Ban Ki-moon
are in Egypt to try to arrange a ceasefire.
The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) struck some 190
terrorist targets over the past 24 hours in the Gaza Strip, including over 100
in Shejaia. However, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni ruled out any
ceasefire until the IDF finishes an operation aimed at destroying tunnels used
by militants for cross-border attacks. Several mosques, a stadium and a
hospital were destroyed in Tuesday’s strikes.
Israel launched its ground operation in Gaza after
days of air strikes, following rocket fire by militants into Israeli towns. Israel
said the move was necessary to target Hamas’ network of tunnels, which have
been used by militants to get into Israel and carry out attacks.
“First of all, it won’t happen before we really finish
the tunnels project which was laid out as a strategic objective,” Livni said. At
least five persons were killed and 70 others injured in the Israeli strike on a
hospital in Gaza, Palestinian health ministry sources said, adding that several
doctors were also wounded in the attack.
The IDF said it had targeted a cache of anti-tank
missiles in the hospital’s “immediate vicinity”. Over 30 members of two
Palestinian families also died in Israeli strikes overnight, Gazan health
The IDF on Tuesday announced that nine soldiers were
killed yesterday, raising the number of Israeli military fatalities since the
operation commenced to 27. Two Israeli civilians have also been killed.
One of the IDF soldiers classified as “missing” in
Gaza was declared dead. However his body is still missing. So far, 604
Palestinians have been killed and more than 3,700 wounded since Israel began
its Operation Protective Edge on July 8, Gaza Health Ministry officials said on
It was unclear how many of the dead were militants,
but the United Nations has estimated that between 70-80 per cent were
civilians, including at least 120 children. Israel said that its forces have
killed more than 180 militants.
UN agencies working
in Gaza said that more than 100,000 Gazans have now been displaced and have
sought shelter in UNRWA facilities where providing basic necessities “is an