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  • 373 Palestinians, 7 Israelis killed; no sign of ceasefire

    Published on July 20, 2014

    Amid intense efforts by world leaders to broker a ceasefire, Israel on Sunday expanded its ground offensive in the Gaza Strip after the death of its four soldiers, An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires towards Gazawhile the Palestinian militant groups used suicide bombers and bomb laden donkey carts to attack Israeli troops.

    Some 373 Palestinians, including children and women, have been killed in the Israeli offensive, over 2,500 injured and almost 61,000 displaced seeking refuge in 49 UN Relief and Works Agency run centres, sources in the Gaza Strip said.

    At least 24 Palestinians were killed today, including the son of a senior Hamas leader.

    There were reports of multiple deaths in Israeli attacks on Shejaiya and the neighbouring Zeitun district, as well as in Jabaliya to the north.

    The streets of Shejaiya were filled with thousands of people fleeing for their lives.

    Seven Israelis, including five soldiers, have been killed in the fighting and dozens others injured while a large section of the Israeli population struggles to carry out normal life under attack, trying to stay put close to safe shelters under instructions from the Home Front.

    Four soldiers were killed yesterday, including two who died when militants disguised in military uniforms emerged from a tunnel shaft and opened fire at them inside Israel.

    One of the militants was also killed on Israeli soil, and the rest fled back to Gaza and were killed by a helicopter gunship, Channel 10 said.

    Amid raging violence, Qatar will today host a meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and UN chief Ban Ki-moon in attempts to reach a ceasefire agreement.

    Abbas will also meet exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal following his meeting with the UN chief, reports said.

    The meetings come after French-led efforts to reach a ceasefire failed and Hamasrejected an Egyptian proposal.

    The meeting in Doha will be headed by Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who has been acting as a “channel of communication” between Hamas and the international community, local media reports said.

    Islamist Hamas’ fighters infiltrated nearby parts of Israel via underground tunnels and clashed with Israeli troops yesterday.

    The clashes demonstrated how Israel’s conflict with Hamas has now spilled outside, and even underneath.

     

    “Controlling tunnel shafts doesn’t give us full control of the entire tunnel,” security sources said, adding troops have been focussing on destroying the tunnel network which have emerged as a major threat with some finding their way inside Israeli territory.

    “The increased presence in Gaza is aimed at destroying Hamas infrastructure”, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said.

    “In preparation for the mission, the forces have undergone an intensified training and thorough planning period and are prepared and stand ready for the task at hand,” IDF spokesman Lt.Col. Peter Lerner said in a statement.

    Sixty-two people in Gaza had been killed yesterday, the highest daily death toll so far, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

    As midnight approached, a major battle flared in the east of Gaza City, where the horizon along the border was dominated with flashes, explosions and columns of smoke.

    “We know that Hamas terrorists are operating underground, and that’s where we will meet them,” the IDF said, adding that it found 13 tunnels across Gaza, with 34 access points.

    In one of the foiled infiltrations, a killed Hamas fighter was found with tranquilizers and cuffs, “carried with intention to abduct Israelis,” the Israeli military said.

    Hamas and other militant factions in Gaza have claimed to have inflicted more casualties on the Israeli troops but their claims could not be confirmed yet from the IDF.

    Civilian casualties in Gaza meanwhile have been on the rise with 70 per cent of the 373 killed being non-combatants, according to the United Nations amid claims by Israel that the militants are using civilian as “human shields”.

    The Israeli military also encountered a suicide donkey, one loaded with explosives, approaching soldiers near Rafah. The troops fired on the animal, detonating the bombs and killing the donkey on Friday night.

    The IDF claimed late yesterday that since its ground war began on Thursday, “at least 70 terrorists were killed, including 20 in the past 24 hours.

    Thirteen more fighters were captured and brought to Israel for questioning”. In southeastern Israel, a rocket fired from Gaza crashed into Negev yesterday, killing an Israeli and wounding four others, a hospital spokesman said.

    Two Israelis have been killed by apparent Hamas rockets in the past week’s warfare.

    Warnings of rockets sounded yesterday over the Israeli cities of Ashkelon, Rishon Letzion, Rehovot and Beer Sheva.

    Militants in Gaza have launched 1,770 rockets on Israel since the start of Operation Protective Edge on July 8, the IDF said.

    The Israeli anti-missile defence system, Iron Dome, is said to have intercepted 360 of them.

    The IDF has struck “2,300 terror targets” in Gaza. In its recently launched ground operations, the IDF targeted 95 rocket-launching sites and found 13 tunnels with a network of at least 34 shafts, it claimed.

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