Ground Offensive Continues in Gaza

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A Palestinian girl stands on the ruins of her home after it was destroyed in an airstrike in a refugee camp in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip (12 July 2014). ©UNICEF/NYHQ2014-0911/El Baba
A Palestinian girl stands on the ruins of her home after it was destroyed in an airstrike in a refugee camp in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip (12 July 2014). ©UNICEF/NYHQ2014-0911/El Baba

Death Toll Tops 300 in Gaza

TEL AVIV – INTERNATIONAL – The death toll has topped 300 in the Gaza Strip as Israeli military forces continue into the third day of a ground offensive.

Israel’s military distributed video Friday (July 18) it says shows a tunnel that Hamas militants planned to use to launch attacks. A military spokesman said ten tunnels were discovered during the first day of Israel’s ground invasion into the Gaza Strip. A commander at the site described the tunnel access point and said it was aimed toward Israel.

“As you can see, we’ve already targeted this area, this is what’s left. This is the access point that tunnels through to Israel. It starts with a descent, which proves it is a tunnel. After digging we revealed a small and narrow access point which can fit one or two people at a time,” said the commander, who was not identified.

“That area is their shelter, in case of IAF (Israeli Air Force) strikes there’s even a bathroom and shower. Over there is a resting area they built themselves,” he added, pointing to a makeshift shelter on a nearby mound.

A Palestinian girl stands on the ruins of her home after it was destroyed in an airstrike in a refugee camp in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip (12 July 2014). ©UNICEF/NYHQ2014-0911/El Baba
A Palestinian girl stands on the ruins of her home after it was destroyed in an airstrike in a refugee camp in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip (12 July 2014). ©UNICEF/NYHQ2014-0911/El Baba

United Nations Calls for Peace

Amid an escalation of violence in Gaza, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will leave for the region on Saturday to express solidarity with Israelis and Palestinians, and to help bolster regional and international efforts for a solution.

Briefing the Security Council on the latest developments, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said the Secretary-General is “prepared to do his part” to help the parties end the violence and find a way forward.

While Israel has legitimate security concerns, the United Nations “is alarmed by Israel’s heavy response,” said Mr. Feltman.

While it was “indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza into Israel” that ended yesterday’s five-hour humanitarian pause, he said, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) has so far conducted four ground incursions into Gaza and some 90 airstrikes, firing 91 missiles, as well as more than 500 shells.

FILES: DAILY MOTION / REUTERS