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46 Palestinians killed as Israel presses Gaza ground assault

July 18, 2014 9:34 A.M. (Updated: July 19, 2014 10:54 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- 46 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by airstrikes and artillery fire since Israel launched a ground operation late Thursday, medics said.

Two Palestinians were killed in separate strikes in Rafah and one in Beit Lahiya on Friday afternoon.

Rafat Bahloul and Sihab Zurub were killed in airstrikes on Rafah, while Mohammad Matar, 23, was killed in the strike on Beit Lahiya .

Ahmad Hassan Saleh al-Ghalban, 23, Hamada Abdullah Mohammad al-Bashiti, 21, and Abdullah al-Samiri, 17, were killed in an airstrike which witnesses say completely destroyed a home in Khan Younis earlier on Friday.

Mahmoud Ali Darwish, 40, and another unidentified man were killed in al-Nuseirat refugee camp.

Earlier, Ahmad Abdallah al-Behnsawi was killed by shelling in Beit Lahiya, medics said, while the bodies of Saleh al-Zgheibi and Alaa Abu Shabab were found under rubble in eastern Rafah.

Three children were killed in a targeted shelling on a home in northern Gaza. The bodies of Ahmad Ismail Abu Musallam, 14, his sister Alaa, 13, and their brother Muhammad, 15, were taken to Kamal Adwan hospital.

The children were killed when a shell hit their bedroom.

Early on Friday, ambulance crews said nine people were killed in the shelling of a home east of Khan Younis. Their bodies were found under the rubble of a residential building.

Among those identified were Hammad Abdulkarim Hammad Abu Lihyeh, 23, Muhammad Abdulfattah Rashad Fayyad, 26, and Mahmoud Muhammad Fayyad, 25, from Khan Younis.

Relatives Bilal Mahmoud Radwan, 23, Munthir Radwan, 22, Ahmad Fawzi Radwan, 23, and Mahmoud Fawzi Radwan, 24, were also killed.

Amal Khader Ibrahim Dabbur, 40, Ismail Youssif Taha Qassem, 59, Nassim Mahmoud Nassir and Karam Mahmoud Nassir were killed in Beit Hanoun and at least 25 injured in heavy shelling.

In Rafah three people were killed and 11 others wounded by Israeli forces, who fired foul-smelling gas during the operation.

In the Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiyeh, Rani Abu Tawileh was killed and 12 members of his family injured in heavy bombings.

The body of Hussam Abu Issa was pulled from rubble in central Gaza on Friday. It is believed he was killed in overnight attacks.

On the ground, witnesses reported gun battles breaking out east of the southern city of Khan Younis, with military sources confirming it was one of the areas in which the troops were operating.

An Israeli military spokeswoman told AFP ground and air forces had attacked at least 36 targets in Gaza since the incursion was launched.

Over 260 Palestinians have now been killed in Gaza since Israel began it's military assault on the coastal territory last week.

One Israeli soldier was reported killed early Friday and five others injured.

"What the occupier Israel failed to achieve through its air and sea raids, it will not be able to achieve with a ground offensive. It is bound to fail," Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal said from his exile in Doha.

A Hamas spokesman in Gaza earlier said "Israel will pay a high price" for launching the ground operation and that his movement "is ready for the confrontation".

President Mahmoud Abbas said Israel must stop its ground operation, warning it would lead to "more bloodshed" and complicate efforts to end the conflict in the enclave.

Israel approved the call-up of another 18,000 reservists, taking the total number approved to 65,000 for an operation aimed at protecting Israeli lives and striking "a significant blow to Hamas's terror infrastructure," the army said.

"I regret that despite my repeated urgings, and those of many regional and world leaders together, an already dangerous conflict has now escalated even further," UN chief Ban Ki-moon said, urging Israel to "do far more" to spare Palestinian non-combatants.

Figures provided by the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights show that civilians account for more than 80 percent of the victims of Israel's assault since July 8.
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