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More than 125 killed in Gaza since midnight Tuesday

July 29, 2014 2:21 P.M. (Updated: July 31, 2014 2:23 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Ministry of Health on Tuesday afternoon said that more than 100 Palestinians had been killed in the Israeli bombardment on Tuesday morning alone, bringing the total past 1,200 as hundreds of thousands fled their homes across the Strip.

Earlier statements from the ministry had given the number of dead at around 57 for the morning, but after consultation with hospitals across the Strip the total was revised to more than 106 dead and hundreds more injured over the course of 14 hours.

Since then, at least 19 more have died in Israeli attacks.

In the most recent attack, three Palestinians were killed and 10 were injured in an Israeli airstrike on Bani Suheila east of Khan Younis.

The three were identified as Muhannad al-Farra, Ahmad Shawqi Abu Hammad, and Ahmad Ismail Abu Hammad.

The Ministry of Health also said that as of Monday night nearly 5,000 homes had been completely destroyed, while tens of thousands more had been partially destroyed.

The United Nations, meanwhile, estimated that more than 215,000 Gazans had fled their home, or more than 10 percent of the besieged coastal enclave's total population.

Late Monday, Israeli authorities had given 400,000 Gazans evacuation orders, but with all the borders closed and the Israeli bombardment and ground invasion continuing in the northern, central, and southern Gaza Strip, the vast majority had nowhere to go except UN shelters.

Last week, however, Israeli shelling hit at least four UN-designated shelters, killing more than 20 and injuring hundreds.

The violence followed a relatively quiet weekend in which more than 100 bodies were found in Gaza rubble but Israeli shelling killed only a handful of Palestinians, drawing increasingly urgent international demands for an end to the fighting.

"In the name of humanity, the violence must stop," pleaded UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

But the calls appeared to be falling on deaf ears, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning Monday it would be "a lengthy campaign" that would not end before troops destroyed cross-border tunnels used for staging attacks on southern Israel.

"Israeli citizens cannot live with the threat from rockets and from death tunnels -- death from above and from below," he said.

On the ground, hundreds of Palestinians could be seen leaving their homes after the army warned residents of five areas to flee and take refugee in central Gaza City, an AFP correspondent said.

New Gaza exodus

Many headed for already-cramped UN schools in the north, where children ran barefoot around a dirty school yard alongside stinking piles of rubbish.

"We came yesterday after the army warned us to leave," said 46-year-old Ghassan Abed who fled from his home in the northern town of Beit Lahiya with his wife and six children.

"About 200 people just from our street have fled," he said.

UN statistics published Monday showed 215,000 Palestinians had already fled their homes, with 170,461 staying in 82 of the agency's schools.

On Tuesday, several tank shells struck Gaza's sole power plant, causing damage and a fire, bringing it grinding to a halt, a senior official with the power authority said.

Another air strike targeted the home of top Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City's Shati refugee camp, officials said.

A deceptive calm

Tensions rose sharply on Monday after a shell landed inside the Shifa hospital compound in Gaza City, followed by a blast at a children's playground in the city's al-Shati refugee camp, that killed 10, eight of them children.

Residents in al-Shati said an F-16 fired several missiles at a motorized rickshaw in a claim denied by the Israeli army, which also said it had not targeted the hospital.

Shortly afterwards, a mortar killed four soldiers near a kibbutz in southern Israel, the army said, indicating another soldier had been killed in action in southern Gaza.

As the violence soared, top diplomats from Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States pledged to "redouble their efforts" and step up the pressure to persuade the sides to accept a truce.

And Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was expected to visit Cairo with representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, another militant group, for fresh talks with the Egyptians on ending the violence in Gaza, a senior source in Ramallah told AFP, without saying when.

Ministry of Health Spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra provided a continuing toll of the deaths and injuries across the Gaza Strip Tuesday.

The deaths and injuries are provided here in chronological order, starting with the most recent.

At least 14 Palestinians were killed and dozens were injured as Israeli forces shelled Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip.

Mahmoud Muhammad Hammad was killed in Israeli shelling in eastern Khan Younis.

Salem Muhammad al-Far's body arrived to al-Aqsa Hospital after he was pulled from under the rubble in central Gaza.

Ijmeiyan Odeh Shalouf was killed and three others were injured in an airstrike targeting a motorcycle in Rafah on Tuesday afternoon.

Tahrir Nasser Jaber, 15, was killed in an Israeli airstrike targeting her home in al-Salatin neighborhood in northern Gaza Strip.

Ashraf al-Qidra said the bodies of two child siblings arrived to Nasser medical center: Muhammad Atta al-Najjar, 2, and Rafif Atta al-Najjar, 3.

Two Palestinians were killed in an airstrike on Tuesday targeting eastern Rafah.

The dead were named as Ayman Qishta and Ismail Shahin, and they were killed when Israeli warplanes targeted a group of people in eastern Rafah, and four others were injured in an airstrike at Jabaliya.

AFP contributed to this report.
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