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Quds Brigades say 4 soldiers killed, Palestinian death toll near 800

July 24, 2014 7:54 A.M. (Updated: July 26, 2014 12:06 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Islamic Jihad's military wing said on Thursday that its fighters had killed four Israeli soldiers and injured others near Gaza City, as the Palestinian death toll for the day passed 100.

"Our fighters have killed three soldiers and injured others in a well-planned trap in Shujaiyyeh," the al-Quds Brigades said in a statement.

There was a heavy exchange of fire in the area, it added.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was looking into the incident.

Earlier, Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades said its militants had killed eight Israeli soldiers.

The Israeli army has so far announced that 31 soldiers have been killed by Palestinian fighters.

Meanwhile, 18 more Palestinians died in Israeli strikes on the southern Gaza Strip, bringing the death toll for the day up to 116, a health ministry spokesman said.

At least 797 Palestinians have been killed and 5,130 have been injured since the beginning of the Israeli offensive on Gaza.

Kerry in Egypt for ceasefire efforts

Washington's top diplomat John Kerry Thursday pressed efforts to end bloodshed in Gaza, reaching out to allies of Hamas on the 17th day of fighting.

Kerry -- who is in Egypt, which has drafted a truce proposal for the Israel-Hamas conflict -- spoke by phone with the foreign ministers of Qatar and Turkey, a US official said.

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal is based in Qatar, while Turkey's Islamist-oriented Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has harshly criticized Israel's assault on Hamas-ruled Gaza as well as Egypt's role in trying to clinch a ceasefire.

A US official said Kerry was hoping Qatar and Turkey would use their influence to encourage Hamas to accept a ceasefire plan, which the Islamist group has so far rejected.

Meshaal vowed late on Wednesday there would be no end to the fighting without the lifting of Israel's eight-year blockade on Gaza.

A ceasefire supported by Israel, Egypt, and the international community failed to take shape on July 15 when Hamas and other Gaza factions said they were never consulted about the deal.

Hamas has said it refuses to accept any ceasefire that does not involve the lifting of the eight-year siege on Gaza.

Latest Palestinian casualties

Five Palestinians died as an Israeli airstrike hit the Maan area of Khan Younis, said Ashraf al-Qidra, Gaza's health ministry spokesman.

Five more Palestinians in al-Qarara died in another strike.

Four of them were identified as Ashraf al-Najjar, Ahmad al-Najjar, Mahmoud Abdeen, and Muhammad al-Najjar, al-Qidra said in a statement.

The fifth is yet to be identified.

Also in al-Qarara, Sana al-Astal, 45, and her 21-year-old son Muhammad were killed by Israeli artillery shelling on their home.

In Khan Younis, Nibil al-Astal and Ashraf al-Astal were killed in a shelling on a group of people near al-Saada hall.

Additionally, nine people were injured in a strike on al-Ramlawi home in Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.

AFP contributed to this report.
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