Death toll in Israeli strike on Gaza crosses 800

Written by Press Trust of India | Jerusalem | Updated: Jul 25 2014, 18:20pm hrs
Israel's offesive on Gaza to stop rocket attacks from Hamas and dismantle their underground tunnels continued in full force, killing 42 Palestinians overnight and taking the overall toll to more than 800 in the 18-day conflict.

International demands for a ceasefire intensified when more than 15 Palestinians were killed and 200 injured in an Israeli strike on a UN school in northern Gaza crowded with hundreds of displaced civilians.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack, which came hours after the agency had warned that Israel's actions in the Palestinian enclave could constitute war crimes.

"Today's attack underscores the imperative for the killing to stop and to stop now," Ban said.

An air strike on a house in the southern Gaza town of Deir-el-Balah today killed two women.

In total, 42 Palestinians were killed overnight.

Two other people wounded earlier in shelling of the southern city of Khan Yunis, died of their injuries, taking the toll on the Palestinian side to 804.

According to the UN, more than 118,000 people are now sheltering in UN schools and people are running out of food.

Thirty two Iraeli soldiers and three civilians were also killed in the fighting.

Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu said he regretted each Palestinian civilian death, but said they were "the responsibility of Hamas".

Netanyahu in a statement said that the operation is "continuing in full force" and Hamas' conditions for a cease-fire are a non-starter.

"We are continuing Operation Protective Edge at full strength, in the air and on the ground," he said at the opening of a special cabinet session held in the Knesset (Israeli parliament).

The security cabinet is scheduled to meet again today afternoon to consider the direction of the military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

"Hamas has demands from here to Vladivostok," Netanyahu was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying.

Efforts to bring about a ceasefire has so far yielded no results amid a flurry of diplomatic initiatives.

Netanyahu spoke by phone yesterday with US Secretary of State John Kerry, who returned to Cairo from Israel the previous night to continue his so-far unsuccessful efforts to forge a ceasefire.

The Israeli Prime Minister also met UN Secretary General and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond over the past two days amid intensified efforts to mediate a ceasefire.