GAZA/JERUSALEM, July 21 (Xinhua) -- Israel's large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip since July 8 has killed 548 Palestinians and wounded around 3,300 others, medics said on Monday, as the international efforts for brokering a ceasefire also ramped up.
A new round of Israeli airstrike on a building in the center of Gaza city on Monday afternoon killed 11 Palestinians, including four children, medics and witnesses said.
A Gaza Health Ministry spokesman told reporters that Israeli war jets struck a house in Remal neighborhood in Gaza city center, killing eight residents, including four children. Three more civilians were killed in an Israeli tank shelling on a house in Sheja'eya neighborhood in eastern Gaza city.
Earlier on Monday, the spokesman said that Israeli tanks fired artillery shells on al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Ballah, leaving four killed and 50 wounded, mostly paramedics, nurses and civilians.
He also said that three Palestinians were killed after artillery shelling on Shaja'eya neighborhood on Monday afternoon, and five others were killed in an Israeli airstrike on an apartment in northwest Gaza city.
Violence was not limited to Gaza on Monday. Near Hezma checkpoint north of Jerusalem a Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli soldiers who were dispersing protesters throwing stones at a military jeep.
The spokesman said that as of Monday the total death toll in Gaza has reached 548, including 120 children. More than two thirds of the casualties were civilians.
"Amid a severe shortage of medical equipment and medicines, many among the 3,300 wounded are still in critical conditions," he said, also calling on the international community for urgent help.
Meanwhile, Hamas armed wing al-Qassam Brigades said in separate text messages that gun battles on the ground continued in northern, eastern and central Gaza Strip, with more rockets firing into Israel. Ten of its militants were killed in a fierce gun battle in east of the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun "after heavy strikes and losses caused to the enemy," the group said.
On the other side of the conflict, seven more Israeli soldiers have been killed in clashes with Gaza militants since Sunday night, raising the number of KIA to 25, the Israeli army said on Monday evening. Four soldiers were killed within Israel in a clash with Palestinian militants tunneled in from northern Gaza, an Israeli army spokesperson said. Some 30 Israeli soldiers have been injured for the past 24 hours, three severely, the army said.
Earlier on Sunday, 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in battles with militants in the Gaza Strip, the highest toll on the Israeli side since its Operation Protective Edge in Gaza began two weeks ago.
Israel said earlier that its military operation in the Gaza Strip aims to bring calm to its citizens after Gaza militants, led by the Hamas movement, fired thousands of rockets into northern, central and southern Israeli towns and communities.
But Hamas deputy chief Ismail Haneya said in a televised speech that "the people decided to end the siege and end the occupation and this will be achieved soon." "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," he said, adding that Hamas will not give up "until our demands are met."
The Hamas chief's appealing was echoed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Monday, as PLO member Yasser Abed Rabbo said that "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."
The international efforts for brokering a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip also ramped up on Monday, as both UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo in the same day to push for a truce.
The UN chief called on both sides to stop the violence "now" without any preconditions. He reaffirmed his support for Egypt's cease-fire initiative offered last week, which was accepted by Israel but rejected by Hamas. Hamas said the proposal was not comprehensive and without guarantees for ending the six-year-long Israeli blockade of the restive enclave.
Ban is currently on a regional tour that includes Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority for discussions on reaching a ceasefire in Gaza.
Kerry is also expected to meet with Egyptian officials in Cairo and later visit Jerusalem in an attempt to draft a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.
Despite their efforts, Egypt said on Monday that it has no intention to amend its ceasefire initiative proposed last week. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry said that Egypt's peacemaking bid is "comprehensive" and mainly in favor of the Palestinian people, particularly those who have been suffering a massive Israeli military strike on the Gaza Strip.
WASHINGTON, July 21 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. is pushing for a ceasefire as war rages in Gaza, but hurdles to peace abound, experts here said.
The United States on Sunday began to push for a ceasefire in Gaza amid an Israeli ground war aimed at halting rocket attacks against Israel's civilian population, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveling Monday to Egypt to discuss the pressing situation with senior officials there. Full story
CAIRO, July 21 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry said on Monday that Egypt has no intention to amend its ceasefire initiative proposed last week between Israel and the Gaza-ruling Hamas movement.
At a joint news conference with visiting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Cairo, Shukry said that Egypt's peacemaking bid is "comprehensive" and mainly in favor of the Palestinian people, particularly those who have been suffering a massive Israeli military strike on the Gaza Strip. Full story