Gaza toll hits 100 as heavy bombing continues

Israeli warplanes and naval artillery heavily bombed the Gaza Strip Friday, as the Palestinian death toll rose to 100 since Israel earlier this week launched Operation Preventive Edge to stop rocket attacks from the Strip.

IANS| Updated: Jul 11, 2014, 21:30 PM IST

Gaza: Israeli warplanes and naval artillery heavily bombed the Gaza Strip Friday, as the Palestinian death toll rose to 100 since Israel earlier this week launched Operation Preventive Edge to stop rocket attacks from the Strip.

Medical sources in Gaza said 100 Palestinians had died and almost 700 had been injured since the offensive began last Tuesday.

The death toll rose Friday after 50 more targets, including four homes, were struck in the Strip, leaving eight people dead, including a baby and a seven-year-old boy, the health ministry in Gaza reported.

Worst-hit was a house in Rafah, south of Gaza, where five members of a family were killed in an Israeli attack that destroyed the building and several neighbouring properties.

Humanitarian organisations said more than 300 homes in Gaza have been destroyed and several more have been seriously damaged, leaving more than 2,000 people homeless.

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said in a statement Friday they had attacked 210 targets of "terrorist factions" over the past 48 hours, including rocket launchers, offices of the Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas, tunnels and training sites.

Israeli warplanes and naval artillery have bombed 1,090 targets in Gaza since the military operation began, the IDF said.

Meanwhile, Palestinian militants fired 550 rockets, most of them intercepted by Israel`s Iron Dome missile defence system.

The al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas`s military wing, Friday claimed responsibility for rocket attacks against Tel Aviv and other cities in central and southern Israel.

Early Friday, 30 more rockets were launched against southern Israel, leaving three civilians injured in the city of Ashdod.

US President Barack Obama Thursday offered to broker a ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas movement in order to "protect the lives of civilians and restore calm" to the region.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon condemned the violence and urged both sides to "exercise maximum restraint".

Israel has been massing troops on the border with the Gaza Strip and has called up 40,000 reservists as it prepares to launch a ground offensive.

The latest crisis erupted June 12, when Israel began a massive search for three Jewish seminary students who went missing in the West Bank and were found murdered last week.
Israel blamed the kidnappings on Hamas, which has denied any role, and arrested 500 people, most of them linked to the group.
Tensions flared after a Palestinian teenager was abducted in Jerusalem last week and found burned to death hours later in a revenge killing for the murders of the three Israeli students.