Gaza toll passes 330 as UN chief heads to region
Israeli military killed 26 Palestinians, including eight members of a family, in overnight raids on the Hamas
Gaza/Jerusalem: Stepping up its offensive, Israeli military killed 26 Palestinians, including eight members of a family, in overnight raids on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, taking the death toll to more than 330 in the 12-day long conflict that has displaced thousands.
Three Israeli soldiers were injured in northern Gaza in exchange of fire and evacuated to a nearby hospital for treatment, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said today.
An IDF spokesperson said, “over 40 terrorists have been killed in the Israeli operation and 21 others arrested”. An Israeli soldier has been killed and five others injured since the launch of its first massive ground offensive in the Gaza Strip in five years this week.
Israeli forces backed by artillery and air strikes launched the ground offensive on Thursday with the army saying the objective is to strike a “significant blow to Hamas”.
Israel withdrew ground troops from Gaza in September 2005, and last mounted a major ground operation in 2009.
More than 300 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed and over 2,200 injured in the Israeli attacks. Over 40,000 have been displaced in Gaza since the start of Israeli operation, UN sources said.
The displaced have taken refuge in 34 UN shelters “where relief workers are facing a tough challenge providing them basic necessities under difficult conditions,” a Gaza-based UN source told.
The number of people in Gaza seeking sanctuary from the conflict with Israel nearly doubled yesterday, the UN said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will leave for the Middle East today to help end the conflict between Israel and Palestinians.
“The Secretary-General is extremely concerned that this escalation will further increase the already appalling death toll among Gazan civilians,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said.
Feltman said Ban is currently reviewing a request by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas which would place Palestine under an international protection system administered by the UN.