New Israeli strikes raise Gaza toll to 205

Updated 16 Jul 2014

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Palestinians inspect the house of senior Hamas official Mahmud al-Zahar after it was destroyed by an overnight Israeli air strike. — Photo by AFP
Palestinians inspect the house of senior Hamas official Mahmud al-Zahar after it was destroyed by an overnight Israeli air strike. — Photo by AFP

GAZA CITY: New Israeli air and tank strikes in Gaza early Wednesday killed several people, medics said, bringing the death toll from Israel's operation in the besieged Palestinian territory to 205.

A strike on a house in the southern city of Rafah killed two men, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said, and a separate raid killed a young man who witnesses said was a militant.

Another Rafah strike shortly afterwards left one man dead, Qudra said, while a raid on the home of Mohammed al-Arjani in the southern city of Khan Yunis killed his son Abdullah, 19.

About an hour later, tank fire from inside Israel hit the eastern part of Khan Yunis, killing one person, Qudra said, later pronouncing the death of another man there, 33-year-old Mahmud Abu Dakka.

Some of the first raids on Wednesday morning targeted homes of senior Hamas officials, including Mahmud al-Zahar, but there were no reports of casualties in those strikes.


Israel warns 100,000 Gazans to leave homes


The Israeli army has warned some 100,000 Palestinians in the eastern Gaza Strip to evacuate their homes, Israeli military sources said Wednesday.

Media correspondents saw flyers dropped over the Zeitun neighbourhood southeast of Gaza City, and residents there and elsewhere also reported receiving recorded phone and text messages urging them to evacuate by 0500 GMT.

The flyers explained that the army would be carrying out “aerial strikes against terror sites and operatives” in Zeitun and Shujaiya, since “a high volume of rocket fire at Israel” was from there.

A similar message was sent to residents of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza.

“The evacuation is for your own safety,” the leaflet read, warning residents to not return to their homes until further notice.

Similar messages had been sent to Beit Lahiya with a Sunday deadline, causing the exodus of 17,000 people who took shelter in United Nations schools.

Israel, Palestine fight for the promised land

Israel had resumed its air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday a day after holding its fire in deference to an Egyptian-proposed cease-fire deal.

The week-old conflict seemed to be at a turning point on Tuesday, with Israel threatening to step up an offensive that could include an invasion of the densely populated enclave of 1.8 million.

But Moussa Abu Marzouk, a Hamas political official who was in Cairo, said the movement, which is seeking a deal that would ease the Egyptian and Israeli border restrictions throttling Gaza's economy, had made no final decision on Cairo's proposal.

Hamas rejects Egypt proposal for truce with Israel

Israel resumed attacks in Gaza six hours after implementation of the truce was to have begun.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in broadcast remarks late on Tuesday that Israel will “expand and intensify” its campaign on Hamas, though he did not specifically mention the possibility of a ground incursion.

With Israel's punishing campaign crossed the death toll to 204, higher than the people killed in the last major round of violence in and around Gaza in November 2012.

Human rights groups say more than 75 per cent of the dead have been non-combatants. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees says more than a quarter of them have been children.