UK & World News

  • 29 July 2014, 19:10

Gaza: '100 Palestinians Killed In One Day'

Israel has stepped up its military campaign in Gaza, where more than 100 Palestinians have been killed today alone and power supplies have been crippled by the destruction of the territory's only power plant.

The Israeli military said it had targeted over 110 "terror sites" across Gaza by air, sea and land since midnight.

The Red Crescent said the latest fatalities included seven members of one family killed in an airstrike in the southern town of Rafah. Another seven members of a second family died when tank shells hit their home.

Meanwhile, renewed hopes of a ceasefire deal were dashed after Israel's Channel Two television retracted claims that Israel and Hamas had agreed a truce.

It said instead there was a "movement" towards a deal, brokered by Egypt.

Earlier a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in the West Bank said the Palestinian leadership, along with Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad group, were willing to observe a humanitarian truce of 24 hours.

But that was denied byHamas, which is not a member of the PLO, and Israel rejected any agreement that didn't come directly from the group.

It was the latest of several ceasefire attempts which have failed to take hold during the three-week conflict which has left more than 1,175 Palestinians dead.

Israel has lost 53 soldiers, along with two civilians and a Thai national.

Israel's intensified bombardment of Gaza came a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a "prolonged campaign" against Hamas.

The fuel depot at Gaza's only power plant was practically destroyed on Tuesday morning, cutting electricity to a large proportion of the enclave's 1.8 million residents and causing further disruption to the water supply.

According to a spokesman for Gaza's electricity distribution company, the power plant, which supplies two thirds of the territory's energy needs, was hit by shells fired from an Israeli tank, a claim which could not be verified.

The power station was also hit last week and had been operating on a reduced capacity providing only a few hours of electricity per day to Gaza's residents.

Other symbols of Hamas government control, including the headquarters of the two media outlets, were also targeted.

As was a central mosque in Gaza City and the home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh which was hit by a missile causing damage but no casualties.

Israel launched its aerial offensive against Gaza on July 8, declaring the aim was to halt rockets fired by Hamas and its allies into Israel.

It launched a ground invasion shortly afterwards, primarily aimed at destroying a network of cross-border tunnels which Hamas militants are reported to use to infiltrate Israel.

Israel says five of its soldiers were killed late on Monday after militants sneaked into Israel using one such tunnel.

US Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated support for Israel's right to defend itself, but said the US is working towards deescalating the conflict.

He told reporters: "We are working very carefully with our Israeli friends in order to reduce the civilian loss of life, to prevent this from spiralling downwards into a place from which both sides have difficulty finding a way forward in order to address the underlying issues".

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