Gaza death toll at 176 as Israeli strikes continue

A Palestinian stands looking at damaged cars amid the rubble of destroyed buildings following an Israeli air strike on July 14, 2014 in Gaza City. (Photo: AFP - Thomas Coex)

Published Monday, July 14, 2014

Updated 7:00 pm: Israeli war jets continued firing missiles at the Gaza Strip Monday on the seventh day of its relentless assault that has killed 176 Palestinians and injured nearly 1,300.

Israel said it shot down a drone from Gaza Monday, the first reported deployment of an unmanned aircraft by Palestinians, with Hamas saying it had sent several drones to carry out "special missions."

Israeli aircraft and naval gunboats attacked 204 targets in the Gaza Strip overnight, the occupation forces said, with Gaza health officials saying at least 20 people were wounded in the attacks.

Palestinians fought back by sending more than 20 rockets into Israeli occupied territory, but caused no casualties.

In the latest strikes on Gaza, a 37-year-old was killed when a missile struck a group of men near the southern city of Khan Younis, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

A 60-year-old man was killed in a raid on a house in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, and two other people died in separate strikes elsewhere in the coastal enclave, Qudra said, without giving details.

Earlier, a man and a woman injured in air strikes on Sunday died of their injuries, he said, raising to six the number of lives lost on Monday as a result of the ongoing air campaign.

So far, more than 1,280 have been wounded.

The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) said on Sunday that more than three-quarters of the victims were civilians.

The UN refugee for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has said more than a quarter of them were children.

"All indications are, and I find this particularly dramatic, that women and children make up a sizable number of the victims of the current strikes. Currently more than one quarter of the fatalities are children," UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said on Monday.

The bloodiest day so far was Saturday when 56 people were killed in a series of deadly strikes, Qudra said.

On Monday, the Israeli military said a Palestinian launched drone was intercepted near the port of Ashdod by a US-built Patriot missile.

The force was trying to locate debris in the area about 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of Gaza, and determine whether it had carried explosives.

World powers prepared to meet over the violence as the Palestinian death toll from the brutal Israeli air campaign hit 176, most of them civilians, with another 1,280 people wounded, the emergency services said.

Fearing for their lives, about 17,000 people have taken shelter in installations of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, the agency said in a statement.

Despite increasing calls for a ceasefire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas's military was hitting back "with growing force," signalling that the attacks on Gaza would continue.

"We do not know when this operation will end," he told ministers.

As the death toll rose, the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights said most of the victims were civilians, putting their number at more than 130, among them 35 children and 26 women.

It also said Israel had hit 147 homes and badly damaged hundreds of others.

So far, no Israelis have been killed.

In northern Gaza, even before the Israeli army's warnings went out, thousands of residents of the blockaded coastal strip began fleeing the traumatic violence, an AFP correspondent reported.

"It was the middle of the night, and I gathered the children, they were so afraid," said Samari al-Atar, breaking down in tears as she described how her family fled barefoot with shooting all around.

Saturday's death toll was the highest yet with 56 people killed, including 18 people from the same family who died in a single strike on a house in Gaza City, medics said.

Eight people were killed in air strikes on Sunday and another two died early Monday of injuries received in earlier raids.

With Palestinian civilians bearing the brunt of the violence, clashes erupted in central Paris as thousands of people protested against Israel and in support of Gazans.

Protesters also rallied across Asia to condemn the Israeli offensive, with 3,000 gathering in Sydney and hundreds more in Hong Kong, New Delhi and Jakarta.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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