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100 Palestinians killed in one day as Israel steps up military action
30-07-2014

GAZA: Israel has stepped up its military campaign in Gaza, where more than 100 Palestinians have been killed on Tuesday alone and power supplies have been crippled by the destruction of the territory’s only power plant.

The Israeli military said it had targeted over 110 ‘terror sites’ across Gaza by air, sea and land since midnight. The Red Crescent said the latest fatalities included seven members of one family in an airstrike in the southern town of Rafah. Another seven members of a second family died when tank shells hit their home.

Meanwhile, renewed hopes of a ceasefire deal were dashed after Israel’s Channel Two television retracted claims that Israel and Hamas had agreed a truce. It said instead there was a “movement” towards a deal, brokered by Egypt.

Earlier a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) said the Palestinian leadership, along with Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group, were willing to observe a humanitarian truce of 24 hours.

But that was denied by a Hamas spokesman in Gaza and Israel rejected any agreement that didn’t come directly from the group. More than 1,175 Palestinians have been killed during the three-week conflict. Israel has lost 53 soldiers, along with two civilians and a Thai national.

Israel’s intensified bombardment of Gaza came a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a ‘prolonged campaign’ against Hamas. The fuel depot at territory's only power plant was practically destroyed on Tuesday morning, cutting electricity to a large proportion of the enclave’s 1.8 million residents and causing further disruption to the water supply.

The power plant supplies two thirds of the territory’s energy needs and was engulfed in flames sending a column of black smoke into the air.

The US reiterated on Tuesday that it supports Israel’s right to defend itself, but is working towards deescalating the conflict.

US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters, “We are working very carefully with our Israeli friends in order to reduce the civilian loss of life, to prevent this from spiralling downwards into a place from which both sides have difficulty finding a way forward in order to address the underlying issues.”