Israel shells UN-run school in Gaza; Palestinian toll tops 770

A week after it launched ground offensive in Gaza, Isareli Army on Thursday vowed to continue its assault ``above, on and below the ground` to exterminate Hamas.

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

  • Israeli tanks late Thursday shelled a UN-run school in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, killing 15 people and wounding dozens who took shelter there, amid frantic international diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed that has left 770 Palestinians and 34 Israelis dead so far.
  • Israeli tanks shells hit a compound housing a UN school in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza Strip, killing at least 15 people and wounding 200 others, Gaza health ministry today said on the 17th day of the war.

    Reports said that pools of blood stained the school courtyard and the desks. Books and belongings were scattered and there was a large scorch mark in the premises marking the place where one of the shells hit.

    The attack came amidst heavy fighting throughout the coastal territory between Israeli forces and Hamas militants. Israel focused its attacks on southeast of Gaza, with residents fleeing areas which came under heavy bombing.

    More than 70 people were killed in Gaza today, taking the overall Palestinian toll to over 770 since Israel launched its military offensive `Operation Protective Edge` on July 8.

    It was the 4th time that a UN facility has been hit in fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

  • Israeli strike on UN shelter in Gaza leaves multiple people dead and injured, confirmed a UN spokesman.
  • US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke Wednesday to his counterparts in Qatar and Turkey, which support the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as he pressed for a Gaza ceasefire.
  • Kerry - who is in Egypt, which has drafted a truce proposal for the Israel-Hamas conflict - spoke by phone with the foreign ministers of Qatar and Turkey, a US official said.

  • Seeking to defuse fears of spillover of Israel-Gaza violence beyond the warring nations, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has told a radio channel that "Jews in France should not be afraid but many of them are afraid", reported the Reuters.

    It is remarkable to note that France has both the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in Europe.

  • According to a report in Washington Post, some 50 Israeli Army reservists have refused to serve, regretting that entire military gets implicated in oppressing Palestinians.
    In an online petition, the ex soldiers of Israeli Army posted, "We found that troops who operate in the occupied territories aren’t the only ones enforcing the mechanisms of control over Palestinian lives. In truth, the entire military is implicated. For that reason, we now refuse to participate in our reserve duties, and we support all those who resist being called to service".

  • Israel says Hamas fired a barrage of rockets towards central Israel with rocket sirens and blasts beingheard in Tel Aviv.
  • Meanwhile, UN Chief Ban Ki-moon has expressed alarm at the reports that rockets were kept at a UN-run school in Gaza. Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of using civilians as human shields and using public places like hospitals, mosques, schools and homes to fire rockets.
  • As the UN Human Rights Council yesterday backed a resolution drafted by Palestine, supporting calls to hold Israel accountable, Israel mocked it as a "travesty" caling the UNHRC as a `kangaroo court`.

    "This investigation by a kangaroo court is a foregone conclusion," the Prime Minister`s Office said.

    India was one of the 29 nations that backed Gaza while adopting a resolution drafted by Palestine, that called for probe into the civilians` deaths.

  • US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is back in Cairo after a mediocre day in Israel, condoled the death of two Israeli soldiers in Gaza, who were US citizens, calling it a `heartbreaking reminder of close bond with Israel`.
  • Even as diplomatic push for a ceasefire intensified recently with John Kerry back in Cairo for talks, an Israeli minister doused hopes of an immediate truce in sight, saying that he Army will continue destroying Hamas tunnels even if it stops strikes as a part of humanitarian truce.

    "I do not expect a ceasefire in the coming days where the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) would leave," Science Minister Yaakov Peri told an Israeli news portal.

    "Even if there is a humanitarian truce, we would continue tackling the tunnels," he said. "I can say authoritatively that two or three days will not be enough to finish tackling the tunnels."

    Also Read: Gaza truce unlikely "in coming days": Israeli minister

  • According to Palestinian officials, the death toll in Gaza stands at 718, with 16 people killed by an Israeli tank early morning today.
  • Israeli Army says Hamas has fired more than 2270 rockets at Israel since July 8. That`s more than 140 rockets a day for 16 days.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on flights to and from Tel Aviv, imposed after a Gaza rocket had landed near the airport.

    "The FAA has lifted its restrictions on US airline flights into and out of Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport by cancelling a Notice to Airmen it renewed earlier today. The cancellation is effective at approximately 11:45 pm EDT," said a statement.

  • Calling the `unauthorised` WhatsApp messages as ``irresponsible``, Israeli Army said that it had decided to confiscate the cell phones of soldiers going into combat in Gaza.
  • After families complained about getting the right and wrong news of their relatives being killed in Gaza operations via WhatsApp, the Israeli Army said that it had arrested some soldiers and a civilian on suspicion of leaking casualty figures, reported the Reuters.
  • With no ceasefire in sight, Israeli Army has vowed to carry on its assault in Gaza, despite efforts by the US and the UN to water down the situation.
  • The Israeli Army said three more soldiers were killed in Gaza yesterday, taking the soldiers` toll to 32.
  • Israeli Army says it has apprehended 150 terror suspects in Gaza.

    A week after it launched ground offensive in Gaza, Isareli Army on Thursday vowed to continue its assault `above, on and below the ground` to exterminate Hamas.

    Israel and Gaza have been fighting for more than two weeks now, taking the death toll past 700 as an Israeli tank was reported to have killed 16 people in Gaza in early dawn hours today.

    Despite intense diplomatic efforts going on, no ceasefire deal is in sight as US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in Israel yesterday, left without any concrete agreement being struck.

    An Israeli security cabinet meeting late night yesterday followed Kerry`s departure, but did not end in fruitful conclusions.

    However, Kerry, who shunted back to Egypt for more ceasefire talks, expressed hope, saying some progress had been made and some steps had been taken in the direction of truce.

    Kerry`s hope was echoed by an Egyptian official who said that a truce might take place by the weekend.

    However, Israel and Hamas showed no signs of cooling down with both sides remaining adamant.

    While the Israeli Defence Forces said that their mission in Gaza will continue, Hamas tied a condition to the ceasefire, saying there will be no truce unless Israel ended economic blockade on Gaza.

    Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said they would reject ceasefire until its conditions were met, reported the BBC.

    The Israeli Army too has continued its strikes and ground offensive in Gaza, as its Operation Protective Edge entered Day 17 today.

    Meanwhile, the United Nations Human Rights Council yesterday held a seven-hour emergency session on Gaza issue and backed a resolution drafted by Palestine, supporting calls to hold Israel accountable for the death toll.

    Speaking at Human Rights Council Special Session on Gaza, Navi Pillay warned that civilians were not a legitimate target and attacking them might amount to war crimes. 

    "Respect for the right to life of civilians, including children, should be a foremost consideration. Not abiding by these principles may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity," said the UN rights chief. 

    Citing the UN estimate, she said that 74 percent of those killed were civilians and that the death toll climbed dramatically since Israel’s ground operations began on 17 July.

     The latest bout of Israeli-Palestinian violence was triggered when a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and murdered in retaliation to the murder of three Israeli teenagers, who were allegedly killed by Hamas militants. 

    Since then Israel has stepped up offensive in Gaza, targeting more than a thousand Hamas targets. 

    Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 to stop Hamas rockets falling into Israel. Last Thursday, Israel launched a ground offensive in Gaza to destroy tunnels used by the Hamas militants to infiltrate. 

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