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Gaza death toll 'rises above 600'

July 22, 2014 12:57 P.M. (Updated: July 23, 2014 12:24 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The death toll in Gaza rose above 600 on Tuesday as emergency teams pulled dead bodies from the rubble of homes destroyed by Israeli strikes on the 15th day of the assault.

The latest victims, whose bodies were pulled from rubble of destroyed buildings in the Gaza City neighborhoods of Shajaiyeh and Zaytoun, were identified as 65-year-old Muhammad Khalil Ahel and Hamada Eleiwa.

Another unidentified man was killed in an airstrike that targeted a car in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip.

Three other victims, who have yet to be identified, died in the Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza City as a result of Israeli artillery shelling, health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said.

Before that, al-Qidra said 22-year-old Mahmoud Salim Mustafa Daraj succumbed to his wounds in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.

The deaths brought the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire on Tuesday to 33.

Palestinian medical sources earlier announced the death of Ahmad Abu Seido by Israeli shelling on a park in eastern Gaza City.

Rescue teams before that removed body of another man from rubble in Shujaiyya neighborhood.

Al-Qidra had earlier announced another victim as four-year-old girl Muna Rami al-Kharawt in the northern Gaza Strip.

The bodies of two women were also removed from the debris of their homes in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City, al-Qidra said.

He identified the two victims as 70-year-old Fatima Hasan Azzam and 50-year-old Maryam Hasan Azzam.

Additionally, emergency teams pulled the body of Muhammad al-Hindi from a destroyed building in Tal al-Hawa in southern Gaza.

After midnight Tuesday, over a dozen Palestinians were killed after Israeli airstrikes and artillery hit their homes.

Israeli media had earlier quoted a Hamas official as saying there were negotiations for a five-hour humanitarian ceasefire to begin at 10 a.m.

Israeli officials rejected the proposal, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

Since the start of the offensive, more than 100,000 Gazans have fled their homes, seeking shelter in 69 schools run by the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA.

Overall, 27 soldiers have died in the past four days, with 13 killed on Sunday alone in what was the bloodiest single day for the Israeli military since the Lebanon war of 2006.

Two Israeli civilians have also been killed by rocket fire.

Hamas' main condition for halting its fire is a lifting of Israel's eight-year blockade on the enclave, but it also wants "the release of those recently detained" in the West Bank, Ismail Haniyeh, the movement's top Gaza-based official, said late on Monday.

Cross-border rocket fire has continued despite the operation, with 116 rockets hitting Israel on Monday, one striking the greater Tel Aviv area, and another 17 shot down.

AFP contributed to this report
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