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“It is not right in God’s sight to obey men rather than God.”

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 officials said.

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 Tuesday.

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 impossible challenge”.