At least 80 killed in Israeli raids on Gaza
Israeli air strikes on the southern and central Gaza Strip killed at least 20 people, including women and children, according to AFP
At least 80 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in Israel's offensive on Gaza, medical sources said on Thursday, as international voices rise for an end to violence.
A Palestinian family of eight members, including five children, were killed in an early morning air strike that destroyed at least two homes in Khan Younis, south of Gaza, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
Another strike on the city killed a 19-year-old man and his 75-year-old father. A four-year-old child who was also injured in one of the strikes on Khan Yunis succumbed to her injuries during the day.
At least 31 people were reportedly killed on Thursday.
Israel's military made no comment on what would be the deadliest strike since the offensive began on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
“We have long days of fighting ahead of us,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Thursday on Twitter of the offensive which began after a build-up of violence following the killing of three Jewish students last month and the murder of a Palestinian teen in a suspected revenge attack.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon appealed for a ceasefire, calling on the international community to do everything to halt escalating violence in Gaza.
“It is now more urgent than ever to try to find common ground for a return to calm and a ceasefire understanding,” he told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called for an end to spiralling violence in Gaza during telephone talks with Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The Russian side stressed the necessity to as soon as possible stop armed confrontation, which leads to multiple victims among civilians,” the Kremlin said after the call between the two leaders.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in Beijing for a summit with Chinese leaders, said the U.S. is trying to stem the surging violence in a way that allows the Jewish state to continue defending itself from Hamas rocket fire. He called it a “dangerous moment” for the Mideast.
Kerry said he has spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said the operation was going according to plan, with Israel targeting various Hamas interests.
“The military's successes so far have been very significant,” he said. “We will continue until they understand that this escalation is not beneficial to them and that we will not tolerate rocket fire toward our towns and citizens.”
[With AFP and Reuters]