Israel-Gaza conflict: Death toll tops 125 after overnight raids as Operation Protective Edge continues

Israeli forces targeted a mosque that was allegedly used to store rockets

Lizzie Dearden
Saturday 12 July 2014 17:10
A Palestinian man walks amidst the rubble of a house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip July 12, 2014.
A Palestinian man walks amidst the rubble of a house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip July 12, 2014.

The death toll in Gaza has topped 125 as Israel’s air and sea offensive continues for a fifth day.

More than 920 Palestinians have also been wounded in the attacks, according to the Gaza Health Ministry’s count after more raids on Friday night.

Officials from the Islamist group said on Saturday that overnight raids targeted a pair of mosques for the first time in the conflict, as well as their homes and bases.

The Israeli military posted an aerial view of the target on Twitter after the strike, claiming a stockpile of rockets was inside one of the mosques, which was also used as a gathering point for militants.

Two women were killed in another strike that hit a charitable association for the disabled in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, AFP reported, and Jebaliya, Deir el Balah and Gaza City were also bombed.

Israel accuses Hamas of knowingly endangering civilians and attempting to use them as human shields by stockpiling weapons underneath mosques, schools and in residential areas.

Israeli forces say the airstrikes have hit 1,100 targets, including Hamas' command centres, rocket launchers and storage sites.

While the Israel Defence Force (IDF) claims it does all in its power to limit collateral damage, many of the people killed by strikes have been civilians, including women and young children.

On Friday, officials said 22 children were among the 103 killed by that time.

Israel has expanded the goal of Operation Protective Edge from stopping rocket fire to “dismantling” the military capability of Hamas, and has not ruled out a ground invasion.

Militants have fired almost 700 rockets into Israel since the operation began but no deaths have so far been reported from the attacks.

Out of four rockets fired from Gaza to Beersheba on Friday night, one injured a woman when it hit her home, one hit an open area and two were intercepted by Iron Dome.

The defence system intercepts incoming missiles to detonate them before they reach the ground.

The Israeli defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, said his country should ready itself for several more days of fighting.

"We have accumulated achievements as far as the price Hamas is paying and we are continuing to destroy significant targets," he said after a meeting with senior security officials.

"We will continue to punish it until quiet and security returns to southern Israel and the rest of the country."

Hamas said it hoped the mosque attack would galvanize support in the Muslim world.

"(It) shows how barbaric this enemy is and how much it is hostile to Islam," said Husam Badran, a spokesman in Doha, Qatar.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, has declined Barack Obama’s offer of help to broker a truce and said he is not considering a ceasefire.

William Hague urged Palestinian and Israeli leaders to negotiate a ceasefire on Saturday but condemned rocket attacks from Gaza and said Israel has the “right to defend itself” .

A draft United Nations Security Council resolution has been drawn up by Palestinians and international supporters calling for an immediate ceasefire.

It condemns all violence against civilians on both sides and expresses concern at heavy casualties in Gaza, including children.

The draft reportedly makes no mention of Hamas rocket fire into Israel, meaning it may not be approved by the US and the country’s allies.

Additional reporting by AP and Reuters

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