Health officials said at least 30 Palestinians were killed in some
of heaviest bombardments from air, sea and land since the Israeli
offensive began in response to Hamas rocket fire.
The Israeli assault intensified following the deaths of 10 Israeli
soldiers in cross-border attacks on Monday, with Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu warning of a long conflict ahead.
Thick black smoke rose from blazing fuel tanks at the power station
that supplies up to two-thirds of Gaza's energy needs. The local
energy authority said initial damage assessments suggested the plant
could be out of action for a year.
Electricity was cut to the city of Gaza and many other parts of the
Hamas-dominated territory after what officials said was Israeli tank
shelling of the tanks containing some 3 million cubic litres of
"The power plant is finished," said its director, Mohammed
al-Sharif. An Israeli military spokeswoman had no immediate comment
and said she was checking the report.
Gaza City municipality said damage to the station could halt many of
the area's water pumps, and it urged residents to ration water
A number of rockets were fired from Gaza toward southern and central
Israel, including the Tel Aviv area. At least one was intercepted by
Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system. No casualties or damage were
reported. Outside pressure has been building on Netanyahu to rein in
his forces. Both U.S. President Barack Obama and the U.N. Security
Council have called for an immediate ceasefire to allow relief to
reach Gaza's 1.8 million Palestinians, followed by negotiations on a
more durable end to hostilities.
Efforts led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last week failed
to achieve a breakthrough, and the explosion of violence appeared to
dash international hopes of turning a brief lull for the Muslim Eid
al-Fitr festival into a longer-term ceasefire.
Netanyahu said on Monday the military would not end its offensive
until it destroys a network of Hamas tunnels, which Israel says
serve as the group's bunkers, weapon caches and cross-border
infiltration routes to attack Israelis.
The Israeli military said 70 targets were struck in Gaza during the
night, including four weapons caches it said were hidden in mosques,
and a rocket launcher near another mosque. Residents said 20 houses
were destroyed and two mosques hit.
More than 1,100 Gazans, most of them civilians, have been killed in
the conflict. On the Israeli side, 53 soldiers have been killed as
well as three civilians.
HAMAS LEADER'S HOME DESTROYED
The main U.N. agency in Gaza, UNRWA, said more than 182,000
displaced Palestinians had taken shelter in its schools and
buildings, following calls by Israel for civilians to evacuate whole
neighbourhoods ahead of military operations. Thousands more have
been taken in by friends or family.
Before dawn, Israeli aircraft fired a missile at the house of Hamas
Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh, a former Palestinian prime minister,
destroying the structure but causing no casualties, Gaza's Interior
[to top of second column]
"My house is not dearer than any of the houses of our people,"
Haniyeh was quoted as saying on a Hamas website. "The destruction of
stones will not break our will and we will continue our resistance
until we gain freedom."
Hamas, whose internal political leadership is in hiding, said its
broadcast outlets Al-Aqsa TV and Al-Aqsa Radio were also targeted.
The television station continued to broadcast but the radio station
The military said the stations were used to "transit orders and
messages to Hamas operatives and to instruct Gaza residents to
ignore IDF (Israel Defence Forces) warnings regarding upcoming
military activity in specific areas."
In a televised address on Monday, Netanyahu said Israel "must be
prepared for a lengthy campaign". The military warned thousands of
Palestinians to flee their homes around Gaza City - usually the
prelude to major army strikes.
Israel launched its offensive on July 8 saying it wanted to halt
rocket attacks by Hamas and its allies. It later ordered a land
invasion to find and destroy a warren of Hamas tunnels that
criss-crosses the border area.
Hamas and Israel have set conditions for a ceasefire that appear
Israel wants Gaza's armed groups stripped of weapons. Hamas and its
allies want an Israeli-Egyptian blockade lifted.
Tension between Netanyahu's government and Washington has flared
over U.S. mediation efforts, adding another chapter to the prickly
relations between the Israeli leader and Obama.
In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored what he
said was a lack of resolve among all parties.
"It's a matter of their political will. They have to show their
humanity as leaders, both Israeli and Palestinian," he told
(Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York, Writing by
Maayan Lubell; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Paul Taylor)
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