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Israel defies global pressure in Gaza, toll tops 770

Israeli strikes

Amid frantic diplomatic efforts to put an end to bloodshed in Gaza, a defiant Israel today pressed on with its relentless

Israeli strikes Gaza/Jerusalem: Amid frantic diplomatic efforts to put an end to bloodshed in Gaza, a defiant Israel today pressed on with its relentless bombardment of Hamas- ruled territory as the raging conflict that has killed over 770 Palestinians and 34 Israelis showed no signs of abating.

Israel focused its attacks on southeast of Gaza, with residents fleeing areas which came under heavy bombing.

Over 70 people were killed in Gaza today, taking the overall Palestinian toll to over 770 since Israel launched its military offensive to halt rocket fire by Hamas on July 8.

In the latest incident, Israeli tank shells hit a compound housing a UN school in Beit Hanun in northern Gaza Strip, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens.

In another tragic incident, seven Palestinians were killed in a series of Israeli air strikes and tank fire in a flashpoint area near Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. The latest casualties, included a family of six with two young children.

Israeli forces have destroyed at least 475 houses while 2,644 have been partially damaged. Some 46 schools, 56 mosques and seven hospitals had also suffered varying degrees of destruction, Palestinian officials said.

Thirty two Israeli soldiers, two civilians and a Thai worker in Israel have also been killed in the conflict.

As the death toll mounted, UN Human Rights Council yesterday ordered a probe into Israel’s offensive on Gaza.

India along with Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa voted in favour of the Palestinian-drafted resolution on “Ensuring Respect for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem”.

Israel’s close ally US was the only one of the 47 member states to oppose the probe supported by 29 countries.

Describing UNHCR as a “kangaroo court”, Israel slammed the move as a “travesty”.

“This investigation by a kangaroo court is a foregone conclusion,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Taking a dig at the UNHCR decision, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman labeled the UN body as the “council for the rights of terrorists”.

Prior to the vote, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned that Israel could be committing war crimes in Gaza.

Meanwhile, US airlines have lifted a flight ban to Israel. The ban was lifted just hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah and returned to Cairo to continue pushing regional efforts for a truce.

Kerry also spoke by phone with the foreign ministers of Qatar and Turkey.

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