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57 dead in Israeli shelling Tuesday morning, power plant shuts down

July 29, 2014 10:02 A.M. (Updated: July 29, 2014 11:39 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Gaza Strip's sole power plant shut down due to a large fire caused by Israeli shelling on Tuesday morning, after at least 57 were killed in a series of Israeli strikes from land, air, and sea since midnight.

The strikes brought the death toll in Gaza to 1,156, including nearly 300 children, with more than 6,700 injured in 22 days of Israeli assault, as the Israeli military said it launched strikes on 70 "targets" across the Strip.

The military also announced its deadliest 12 hours since the beginning of the conflict, with 10 soldiers killed on Monday alone, bringing the total to 53.

The military admitted early Tuesday that five Israeli soldiers had been killed in a Palestinian militant attack through a tunnel into the southern Israeli area of Nahal Oz on Monday afternoon, after al-Qassam Brigades had claimed 10 dead.

Meanwhile, Israeli shelling on the Gaza Strip power lead to a major fire at the station, shutting down production for the coastal enclave's 1.8 million people.

Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil, deputy head of the power authority in Gaza, said that one shell had hit a fuel container, setting fire to it, after another shell had hit a steam engine in the plant.

Khalil said that teams on site were unable to control the fire.

Even before the plant shut down, electricity was severely rationed in eight hour increments, a result of the eight-year long Israeli siege on Gaza that has led to frequent shortages of basic necessities including the fuel needed to run the plant.

An AFP reporter saw huge fires raging near the plant Tuesday morning, noting that fire department vehicles were still unable to reach the area.

The damage of the power plant exacerbated the heavy damage to civilian infrastructure in Gaza already inflicted during the 22 days of the Israeli offensive aimed at stamping out militant rocket fire and destroying attack tunnels.

Besides the power plant, Gaza also purchases electricity from Israel, but many of the supply lines have been badly damaged by the recent fighting, Sheikh Khalil said.

"Five out of 10 of the Israeli electricity lines into the Gaza Strip were also damaged because of Israeli shelling, and maintenance still cannot reach the areas and fix them," he explained.

'We will resist until freedom'

Israeli warplanes on Tuesday struck the house of Hamas' top leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, inside the al-Shati refugee camp.

The Hamas leader responded angrily to the attack, pointing out however that the strike would not break the will of the people of Gaza.

"My house is not more valuable than the house of any other Gazan, and destroying stones will not break our determination and resistance," he said in a statement. "We will resist until freedom."

His son Abed Salam Haniya said the house had been struck twice in the attack.

Israeli strikes across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday morning also hit a number of governmental institutions, mosques, and Hamas-related media centers.

Al-Amin Muhammad mosque was struck by Israeli warplanes in western Gaza City, and al-Salihin mosque in Rafah and al-Shujaiyeh.

At least two airstrikes were fired at the International Gaza Airport in eastern Rafah, and another targeted the offices of the Hamas-affiliated al-Aqsa TV in al-Sheikh Radwan neighborhood.

Israeli warplanes also launched an airstrike at the "financial supervision" offices in western Gaza City.

The Israeli military said in a statement that they had hit "two sites used as command and control centers belonging to Hamas, four weapon storage sites concealed within mosques, a concealed rocket launcher located near a mosque and an offensive tunnel."

Waddah Abu Amer, his wife, and five children were killed in Khan Younis. Waddah Abu Amer is a leader in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a leftist party.

According to Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra, 10 Palestinians were killed around noon on Tuesday.

Nine Palestinians were killed in a series of strikes on Monday morning.

Five killed in shelling targeting the house of the mayor of al-Bureij, including the mayor himself Anis Abu Shamaleh, and seven injured.

10 were injured in Israeli airstrikes targeting the Abu Jame and Abu Daqqa houses in Khan Younis.

Three Palestinians, two of them brothers, were killed in shelling targeting al-Hashash family house in Rafah City.

Suheil Hussein Nassar was killed and three others were injured in Israeli shelling targeting his family house in Beit Lahiya.

11 Palestinians were killed in shelling targeting al-Bureij refugee camp, three of them are children, and 15 others were injured.

Journalist Izzat Duheir, 23, Turkiya Duheir, 80, Yasmin Duheir, 25, Mary Duheir, 12 , and Tasnim Duheir, 8, were killed in Israeli airstrikes targeting the Duheir family house in Rafah.

Five Najjar family members were killed in shelling targeting their house in the Maan area in Khan Younis.

Siham Najjar, 42, was identified as killed, and seven others were injured.

Suheila Abdulqadir al-Jaal, 70, was killed in al-Sabra neighborhood in southern Gaza City.

Dunia Nader al-Agha, 13, succumbed to wounds she sustained Monday night in Khan Younis.

Seven were killed early Monday in Israeli shelling targeting the Abu Zaid family house in al-Jineina neighborhood in Rafah City.

A Ma'an reporter said that Israeli warplanes targeted a three-floor house belonging to Abu Zaid family without any warning, killing seven and injuring dozens.

Ahmad Abdullah Hassan Abu Zaid, Widad Ahmad Salama Abu Zaid, Shamma Wael Abu Zaid, Maryam Marzouq Abu Zaid, Muhammad Abu Zaid, the child Abduallah Nidal Abu Zaid, and Bisan Iyad Abu Zaid were identified among the dead.

Medics pulled the body of an unidentified child from the rubble of al-Far family house in central Gaza.

Al-Alami family house in Gaza City, Awad Iseifan house in central Gaza Strip, Abu Aita family house in al-Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City, al-Shurafa family house in western Gaza City, al-Ghrabli family house in southern Gaza City and Abu Shluf family house in Rafah were targeted by Israeli forces.

AFP contributed to this report.
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