Gaza death toll mounts to 337 on 12th day of Israel aggression

GAZA CITY: Israeli air strikes and shelling killed more than 25 people across Gaza on Saturday, among them children, raising the toll in 12 days of violence to 337, medics said.
The latest deaths included a 20-year-old man in southern Gaza´s Khan Yunis, and a 16-year-old killed in Rafah, also in southern Gaza, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.
Another two men were killed east of Deir al-Balah, he added.
Their deaths followed those of five members of the Zuweidi family, including two girls aged two and six years old, in Gaza´s northern Beit Hanun.Four men were also killed in two separate air strikes in northern Gaza´s Beit Lahiya, Qudra added, along with one person killed in the Qarara district of southern Khan Yunis.
Another three men were killed in an air strike in central Gaza, he added.
The new deaths raised the toll in Gaza on the 12th day of violence between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas to 337 people.
Earlier, Qudra also reported five bodies had been pulled from a home hit by an Israeli air strike in Khan Yunis.
Two Israeli civilians and one Israeli soldier have been killed since the campaign started on July 8, and several wounded.
The soldier was killed by friendly fire, the army told Israeli media.Some 2,385 Palestinians have been wounded, Qudra said.
Operation Protective Edge is the bloodiest conflict in the besieged coastal enclave since 2009.Israel launched its ground offensive late Thursday, starting a new phase in the operation which it said was aimed at destroying tunnels used by the territory´s dominant power, Islamist movement Hamas.
An early morning air strike outside a mosque in the southern city of Khan Yunis killed seven people on Saturday, including a woman, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said. Later raids killed another 13, bringing the death toll so far to 316 Palestinians and two Israelis.
Some 2,250 Palestinians and several Israelis have been wounded.
The UN said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would leave for the region Saturday in a bid to end the violence. Ban would help Israelis and Palestinians “in coordination with regional and international actors, end the violence and find a way forward,” under secretary general for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council.
The two sides´ UN ambassadors traded blame for the violence, with Israel´s Ron Prosor insisting no other country would “tolerate… terrorist” rocket fire at its citizens. Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour read aloud the names of the Palestinian dead, including women and children, to the Security Council, and at one point appeared close to tears.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had ordered the military to be ready for “a significant broadening of the ground activity. “He then convened his security cabinet to discuss a possible expansion of the campaign, which began on July 8. Netanyahu said the ground operation was necessary to deal with the tunnels, but admitted there was “no guarantee of 100 percent success.”
In Gaza, after a relative lull Friday, violence picked up again in the evening, with intensifying tank shelling and air strikes killing more than a dozen people. Among them were eight members of a single family, including four children, killed by tank fire on their home in northern Gaza, Qudra said.
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA has opened 34 of its schools to shelter those fleeing their homes. It said there were 47,000 Gazans seeking sanctuary so far.
The World Food Programme said it had already distributed emergency food rations and food vouchers to more than 20,000 displaced people. It said it was gearing up for a huge increase in the coming days and hoping to reach 85,000 people with food distributions. Gaza was also struggling with a 70 percent power outage after electricity lines from Israel were damaged, officials said.

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