Israel continues Gaza offensive as death toll rises

2014-07-10 08:57

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Israel pressed on with a punishing aerial offensive in Gaza for a third day today, killing eight members of a family including five children in a predawn strike, Palestinian officials said, while militants fired rockets at Israeli cities.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the deadliest single bombing raid since the start of the offensive on Tuesday. The attack destroyed at least two homes in Khan Younis in southern Gaza, killing the eight people, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Sixty-one Palestinians have been killed in the violence, more than 50 of them civilians, Palestinian medical officials said.

Israel says its offensive is intended to halt rocket fire at its cities from the Gaza Strip. More than 200 rockets have been fired during the campaign, striking deep into the country’s heartland, it said.

The rockets have caused no serious casualties, but the barrages have paralysed business in southern communities and sent hundreds of thousands of people scrambling for shelter as far north as the Israeli business hub of Tel Aviv and beyond. A rocket struck on the outskirts of Haifa to the north yesterday.

Hamas’ armed wing said it fired six rockets at Israel early today. Confrontations were also reported at sea, where Palestinian militants in Gaza said they fired mortars and rockets at Israeli gunboats shooting at the coastal territory.

Israeli media reported air raid sirens wailing in several southern cities. The Iron Dome missile defence system intercepted some of the rockets, while others slammed into the ground without causing any damage or casualties, they said.

Palestinians said Israel has targeted more than 70 homes in its offensive. The Israeli military said yesterday it had bombed 550 Hamas sites, including 60 rocket launchers and 11 homes of senior Hamas members. It described those dwellings as command centres.

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