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Rediff.com  » News » Israel presses blistering attack on Gaza, toll rises to 572

Israel presses blistering attack on Gaza, toll rises to 572

Last updated on: July 22, 2014 03:50 IST

Israel on Monday pressed on with its heavy bombardment of Gaza and foiled major infiltration attempts by Hamas on the 14th day of the conflict that has killed 572 Palestinians and 27 Israelis, even as the United Nations and the United States called for an "immediate ceasefire".

A day after Israel's deadliest attack on Gaza in recent years killed about 150 people, more than 10 Hamas militants were shot dead on Monday after infiltrating southern Israel.

Two Hamas cells tried to infiltrate Israel to carry out an attack through tunnels from northern Gaza but they were identified by the Israel Defense Forces and an aircraft was dispatched to intercept them, the army said.

"The first cell was struck from the air, and 10 of its members were killed," it said. The second squad tried to approach Niram kibbutz close to Gaza's northeastern tip, where they were engaged in a fierce gun battle in which they also fired anti-tank weapons.

Several soldiers were wounded, the army said, without giving further details. In the latest incident, an Israeli air strike on a home in the centre of GazaCity killed eight people, including four children, Palestinian medics said.

The strike came after tank-shelling on a hospital in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza killed five people. The deaths across Gaza today pushed the Palestinian toll to at least 558 in 14 days of fighting.

At least 20 bodies were found near the city of Khan Younis after an Israeli airstrike and two people were pulled alive from the rubble, a health official said, adding that over 3,100 Palestinians have been injured so far. The Israeli army on Monday said that seven more soldiers have been killed in the fighting after 13 troops died on Sunday. Twenty-seven Israelis, including 25 soldiers, have died so far in Operation Protective Edge launched on July 8.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council held urgent talks on the conflict late on Sunday night, expressing "serious concern" about the rising death toll and demanding "an immediate cessation of hostilities."

In a bid to broker peace, UN chief Ban Ki-moon met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Qatar and later reached Cairo after meeting top officials in Kuwait, the current chair of the Arab League.

US President Barack Obama in a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also called for an immediate end to hostilities. Netanyahu has vowed to continue offensive in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip despite the death of his 18 soldiers and two civilians.

Four Indian tailors working in Gaza for the last two years were evacuated on Sunday unharmed with the help of the Representative Office of India in Ramallah, West Bank.

Harinder Mishra in Gaza/Jerusalem