GAZA, July 21 (Xinhua) -- A large-scale Israeli military operation launched on the Gaza Strip since July 8 has already killed a total of 548 Palestinians and wounded around 3,300 others, medics said on Monday.
Ashraf al-Qedra, Gaza health ministry spokesman, told reporters that the 548 dead included 120 children, and more than two thirds of the casualties are civilians, including women and children.
"Amid a severe shortage of medical equipment and medicines, many among the 3,300 wounded are still in critical conditions," he said, adding that "we call on the international community for urgent help."
Israel has earlier said that the military operation on the Gaza Strip aimed to bring calm to its citizens after Gaza militants, led by the Hamas Movement, fired hundreds of rockets into northern, central and southern Israeli towns and communities.
Meanwhile, Ismail Haneya, deputy chief of Hamas movement, said in a televised speech that "the people decided to end the siege and end the occupation and this will be achieved soon," adding that "our demands are clear, true and just. It is time that this war has to end right now once and forever and this eight-year siege has to end and the prisoners were arrested in the West Bank must be released."
Haneya also said that these demands are "people's demands and we will never give up and will go for this war to the end until our demands are met. We call on the world to adopt our demands and stay on the side of the Gaza Strip.
Earlier on Monday, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member in Palestine Liberation Organization, told a news conference that the battle in Gaza "is a turning point in the Palestinian history."
"Backing and adopting the demand of the Gaza Strip populations to end the Israeli siege is not the demand of a single Palestinian faction (referring to Hamas), but it is also the demand of all the Palestinians," said Abed Rabbo.