Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Israel defies calls for truce

13 July 2014, 07:28

Gaza City - Ignoring international appeals for a cease-fire, Israel widened its range of Gaza bombing targets to civilian institutions with suspected Hamas ties and deployed ground troops inside Gaza for the first time early on Sunday to raid a rocket launching site in the Palestinian territory. More than 156 Palestinians have been killed.

Four Israeli soldiers were hurt in clashes during the brief incursion to destroy a rocket launching site in northern Gaza, the military said. It said the troops later returned to Israeli territory.

It was the first time that Israeli ground troops are known to have entered Gaza in the current offensive. But the operation was carried out by special forces and did not appear to be the beginning of a broad ground offensive.

Israeli airstrikes pounded targets in Gaza, with one hitting a center for the disabled and killing two patients and wounding four people, Palestinians. In a second attack Saturday night, an Israeli warplane flattened the home of Gaza police chief Taysir al-Batsh and damaged a nearby mosque as evening prayers ended, killing at least 18 people and wounding 50, officials said.

In New York, the UN Security Council called unanimously for a cease-fire, but so far, neither Israel nor Gaza's Hamas rulers have signaled willingness to stop.

Israel has carried out more than 1 200 air strikes over the six-day offensive to try to diminish Hamas' ability to fire rockets at Israel. Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, has fired nearly 700 rockets and mortars at Israel this week.

Israel's chief military spokesperson, Brigadier General Motti Almoz, said on Saturday there would be more strikes, especially in northern Gaza near the Israeli border. Late on Saturday, the military said it was ordering Palestinians in northern Gaza to evacuate "for their own safety".

Gaza's Interior Ministry urged residents in the area to ignore Israel's warnings and to stay in their homes, saying the announcement was Israeli "psychological warfare" and an attempt to create confusion.

In a sign that the conflict might widen, Israel fired into Lebanon late Saturday in response to two rockets fired from there at northern Israel. There were no injuries or damage, but Israel fears Lebanese militant groups may try to open a second front.

Israel has said it's acting in self-defense against rockets that have disrupted life across much of the country. It also accuses Hamas of using Gaza's civilians as human shields by firing rockets from there.

Critics say Israel's heavy bombardment of one of the most densely populated territories in the world is itself the main factor putting civilians at risk. Sarit Michaeli of the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said that while using human shields violates international humanitarian law, "this does not give Israel the excuse to violate international humanitarian law as well".

The Israeli military has said it has targeted sites with links to Hamas, including command centers, and that it issues early warnings before attacking. But Michaeli said civilians have been killed when Israel bombed homes of Hamas militants or when residents were unable to leave their homes quickly enough following Israeli warnings.

An army statement said that from Friday morning to Saturday morning, Israel targeted 158 targets "affiliated with Hamas terrorism" in Gaza, including dozens of rocket launchers and a mosque where Hamas stored rockets and weapons.

Israel also targeted several civilian institutions with presumed ties to Hamas, widening its range of targets. Palestinian officials said this included a technical college, a media office, a small Kuwait-funded charity and a branch of an Islamic bank.

The Israeli military did not mention these institutions in its statement Saturday, saying only that in addition to the military targets, it struck "further sites".

Gaza Health Ministry official Ashraf al-Kidra said the death toll there reached more than 156, with over 1 060 wounded. Among the dead was a nephew of Ismail Haniyeh, a top Hamas leader, who was killed in an airstrike near his home, Hamas officials said.

Though the exact breakdown of casualties remains unclear, dozens of the dead have been civilians. Israel also demolished dozens of homes it said were used by Hamas for military purposes.

"Am I a terrorist? Do I make rockets and artillery?" screamed Umm Omar, a woman in the southern town of Rafah whose home was destroyed in an airstrike. It was not immediately known why the building was targeted.

The "Iron Dome," a US-funded, Israel-developed rocket defense system, has intercepted more than 130 incoming rockets, preventing any Israeli fatalities so far. A handful of Israelis have been wounded by rockets that slipped through.

On Saturday, air raid sirens went off in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Israel's two largest cities, both located nearly 80km from Gaza. Most of the rockets were intercepted or fell in open areas.

The frequent rocket fire has disrupted daily life in Israel, with most staying close to home. Israeli airstrikes meanwhile have turned bustling Gaza City into a virtual ghost town during the normally festive monthlong Muslim holiday of Ramadan, emptying streets, closing shops and keeping hundreds of thousands of people close to home.

The offensive marks the heaviest fighting since a similar eight-day campaign in November 2012 to stop Gaza rocket fire. The outbreak of violence follows the kidnappings and killings of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, and the kidnapping and killing of a Palestinian teenager in an apparent revenge attack.

At the UN, a Security Council statement approved by all 15 members called for de-escalation of the violence, restoration of calm, and a resumption of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians aimed at achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on a two-state solution.

The statement also called for "the reinstitution of the November 2012 cease-fire," which was brokered by Egypt, but gives no time frame for when it should take effect.

The statement, which is not legally binding, is the first response by the UN's most powerful body, which has been deeply divided on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Arab League meanwhile said foreign ministers from member states will hold an emergency meeting in Cairo on Monday about the offensive.

Daraghmeh reported from Ramallah, West Bank. Associated Press writers Karin Laub in the West Bank and Edith M Lederer at the UN contributed to this report.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...