Israel-Gaza crisis: Eight killed in Gaza Strip cafe while watching World Cup semi-final

The Gaza conflict intensifies as 85 people are killed

An Israeli air strike killed eight people as they watched Wednesday's World Cup semi-final at a café on a Gaza beach, according to Palestinian officials.

In a separate strike early on Thursday morning, eight members of the Al Haj family were killed in a home in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, medical teams in the area reported.

“We only ask of help from God,” said Mahmoud Sawali, whose three brothers were watching the game between the Netherlands and Argentina.

“Here I have two brothers who are martyrs, and I'm looking for the third,” he added, as he attempted to locate his sibling.

The Israeli military said it was investigating both incidents.

The deaths were reported as Israel dramatically escalated its aerial assault in the Gaza Strip on Thursday – raising the total number of people killed in this week's offensive to at least 85.

Read more: Robert Fisk: The back-story Israel isn’t telling this week
Powerful images show scale of destruction in Gaza Strip

On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said his government would not consider a truce until Hamas stops firing hundreds of rockets from Gaza into Israel.

Owing to its "Iron Dome" defense system which intercepts projectiles, there have been no casualties on the Israeli side.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said Israel struck more than 320 Hamas targets overnight, focusing on underground tunnel networks and rocket launching sites. Three days into its offensive which launched on Tuesday, the military has struck 750 sites.

The country’s military added that it had struck a car in Gaza carrying three members of the Islamic Jihad group allegedly involved in firing rockets. The militant group confirmed that its men were killed in the strike, while Hamas officials said that the Palestinian side of its border crossing with Israel was also destroyed.

 

Palestinian relatives of eight members of the Al Haj family grieve in the family house during their funeral in Khan Younis refugee camp (AP) Palestinian relatives of eight members of the Al Haj family grieve in the family house during their funeral in Khan Younis refugee camp (AP)
As the worst show of violence between the two sides since a truce was agreed in 2012 shows no sign of calming, the threat of a ground invasion by the Israeli military into Gaza is becoming a likely prospect. This will almost certainly endanger Israeli forces and lead to heavier civilian casualties on the Palestinian side.

Lerner said Israel has already mobilized 20,000 reservists for operation, but for the time remains focused on maximizing its air campaign.

"The ground option needs to be the last option and only if it is absolutely necessary. It is a carefully designed plan of action,“ he said ahead of an Israeli security Cabinet meeting to discuss its next moves.

The latest crisis in the region was sparked three weeks ago after three Jewish students were abducted in the occupied West Bank. They were killed and their bodies were found last week. Then a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and killed in Jerusalem.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, denounced the offensive on Wednesday.

“This war is not against Hamas or any faction but is against the Palestinian people,” he said. A Palestinian man lies amid the rubble of his house following an Israeli air strike in Khan Yunis. (AFP) A Palestinian man lies amid the rubble of his house following an Israeli air strike in Khan Yunis. (AFP)
Addressing the violence, UN secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday that it is more urgent than ever to avoid another Israeli-Palestinian war that could spill into the Mideast and called on both sides to agree to a cease-fire.

"Now is not a time for further incitement or vengeance," Ban said. "We must not let spoilers prevail. We must keep the situation from getting any further out of control."

"Any further spiral of violence could have alarming unforeseen consequences," he warned.

"Once again, Palestinian civilians are caught between Hamas' irresponsibility and Israel's tough response," Ban said.

"Gaza, and the region as a whole, cannot afford another full-blown war and another fault line,“ Ban said, adding: "The potential negative spillover elsewhere in the West Bank is also unpredictable in an already tenuous and combustible situation."

Additional reporting by AP

News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
Band was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
Loan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'
tv
Extras
indybest 9 best steam generator irons
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Officer (HMP Brixton Mentoring Project)

£24,000 per annum pro rata (21 hours per week): Belong: Work as part of a cutt...

Construction Solicitor / Partner

Highly Competitive Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - Senior Construction Solici...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

DT teachers required for supply roles in Cambridge

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: DT teachers required ...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering