Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Death toll in Gaza reaches 80 as Israel prepares for ground invasion


By Haley Paladino - July 10, 2014
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Gaza] [Gaza Blockade] [Collective Punishment] [UN] [Hamas] [Operation Protective Edge]

The Israeli Air Force continued to pound the Gaza Strip for the third consecutive night last night, killing at least 30 Palestinians, according to local media. The running total of civilian fatalities over the last two days stands at 81.  

Israeli rockets have plowed across the entire Strip, according to a local source, including the densly populated areas of Gaza City, Khan Younis, Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia. 

Israeli forces struck Waqt al-Marah coffee shop in Khan Younis, where locals were gathered to watch the World Cup, killing nine and injurring at least fifteen others. 

Forces struck two family homes in Beit Lahia, killing nine and eight family members, respectively, according to a local source. 

The Israeli military has admitted at least one of the strikes was made in error, after family members returned too soon to the house after being warned of the imminent strike. 

"Operation Protective Edge," the largest Israeli military offensive against the Gaza Strip since 2012, entered its third day today. The possibility of a ground invasion still looms, as 40,000 reservists and armored tanks have been mobilized to the Gaza border. 

Israeli forces have struck more than 644 targets and demolished more than 65 homes since the operation started

Palestinian militant groups have responded with more than 340 rockets, reaching as far as Zichron Yaacov, close to Haifa. No Israeli civilian casualties have been reported.

United Nations Secretary Ban Ki Moon has called for restraint from both sides, saying "Calm must be restored as soon as possible. The lives of countless innocent civilians and the peace process itself are in the balance." Mr. Ban also noted fears that the situation could deteriorate into a "full-blown war" that the region cannot handle. 

Egyptian President Fatah Abdul al-Sisi has responded positively to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ appeal for help mediating a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, as was done by Egypt in 2012. 

Sisi's administration has been far colder to Hamas than that of his predecessor, Muslim Brotherhood member Muhammed Mursi. One of Sisi's first moves in office was the destruction of Hamas-operated tunnels at Rafa, a border town between the Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. The tunnels are a crucial source of funding for Hamas, which is in dire financial straights. Egypt re-opened the Rafa crossing today to allow injured Palestinians out. What leverage Sisi might have with Hamas and what, if any negotiations are being carried out, remains unclear.

Israeli President Shimon Peres told CNN Operation Protective Edge could grow into a ground invasion in Gaza "quite soon," if Hamas does not stop firing rockets.

A senior Hamas official told the Times of Israel this afternoon Hamas would be willing to stop firing rockets if Israel releases 56 members arrested in the crackdown on the occupied West Bank following the apparent kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens. The prisoners in question had been released in the Shalit deal in 2011, during which Israel traded Hamas over 1,000 prisoners in exchange for the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit. 

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