Israel expands Gaza offensive, death toll spirals past 410

Jul 20 2014, 19:53 IST
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SummaryOver 60 Palestinians were killed today in Israel's fiercest attack on Gaza in recent years, as the death toll in the conflict spiralled past 410 after the Israeli air and ground assault was expanded to pound Hamas targets.

Over 60 Palestinians were killed today in Israel's fiercest attack on Gaza in recent years, as the death toll in the conflict spiralled past 410 after the Israeli air and ground assault was expanded to pound Hamas targets.

The bloodiest day in the 13 days of conflict prompted urgent efforts by the International Committee of the Red Cross to broker a temporary ceasefire to allow evacuation of the dead and wounded in a deal accepted by both Israel and Hamas.

However, the humanitarian ceasefire was short-lived as the Israeli army accused Hamas militants of violating it and said it had "responded accordingly".

"Once more, Hamas breaches ceasefire, this time brokered by the ICRC for a humanitarian hiatus. IDF responding accordingly," army spokesman Peter Lerner said on his official Twitter account, 40 minutes into the truce.

Hundreds of Palestinians fled in panic into Gaza City today as Israeli troops focused their firepower on the nearby town of Shaja'ia.

The shelling and bombing killed over 60 people and injured about 380 others, a Gaza hospital spokesman said.

More bodies lay in the streets under gashes blasted into apartment buildings, people who had escaped the violence said, as the shelling continued.

The Palestinian death crossed 410, with medics warning it could rise further due to the ongoing bombardment of areas north and east of Gaza City.

The death toll on the Palestinian side included children and women, with over 2,500 injured and almost 61,000 displaced seeking refuge in 49 UN Relief and Works Agency run centres, sources in the Gaza Strip said.

Over 60 Palestinians killed today, included Osama Al-Haya, son of Hamas leader Khalil al-Haya. The IDF bombed the house in which he was staying.

There were reports of multiple deaths in Israeli attacks on Shejaiya and the neighbouring Zeitun district, as well as in Jabaliya to the north. The streets of Shejaiya were filled with thousands of people fleeing for their lives.

Seven Israelis, including five soldiers, have been killed in the fighting and dozens others injured while a large section of the Israeli population struggles to carry out normal life under attack, trying to stay put close to safe shelters under instructions from the Home Front.

Four soldiers were killed yesterday, including two who died when militants disguised in military uniforms emerged from a tunnel shaft and opened fire at them inside Israel.

One of the militants was also killed on Israeli soil while the rest fled back to Gaza and were killed

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