Gaza death toll rises to 157

July 13, 2014 - 5:22:10 am
Palestinians react after their relatives were killed in what hospital officials said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza City yesterday. 

GAZA CITY: The world implored Israel and Hamas to end hostilities yesterday, but the violence escalated with the toll in Israeli strikes rising to 157 and Gaza militants firing more rocket salvos.

It was the bloodiest day since the conflict erupted on Tuesday, with 46 Palestinians killed.

Both sides have dismissed calls for a truce, and Israel continued to build up troops along the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground invasion, warning Palestinians in northern Gaza to evacuate their homes.

The UN Security Council unanimously urged Israel and Hamas to respect “international humanitarian laws” and stop the loss of life.

The 15-member council urged a return to “calm, and restitution of the November 2012 ceasefire”, referring to Gaza’s last deadly full-scale conflict.

Israel’s aerial campaign — the largest and deadliest since 2012 — saw strikes start early yesterday, including one that hit a centre for the handicapped, and another that killed two nephews of Gaza’s former Hamas premier, Ismail Haniya.

Rockets fired from Gaza targeted Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, with several intercepted over Israel’s commercial capital and Jerusalem-bound projectiles hitting two southern West Bank cities.

Hundreds of rockets have so far caused no Israeli deaths, and many have been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system.

Well over 500 projectiles have struck Israel during the conflict, and last evening two rockets fired from Lebanon hit uninhabited areas in northern Israel, the army said. Israel responded with artillery fire.

Amid international efforts to mediate a truce, Egyptian president Abdel Fatah Al Sisi’s government was in touch with both sides, his spokesman said.