Israel kills over 500 Palestinians in 14 days
Israel has killed more than 500 Palestinians since it launched a military offensive on Gaza Strip 14 days ago, as the airstrikes and shelling killed at least 20 people on Monday.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo to try to secure an end to hostilities, a day after he was caught by an open microphone saying sarcastically that the Israeli assault was “a hell of a pinpoint operation”.
Speaking in Washington, President Barack Obama said he was increasingly worried by the conflict.
“We have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives, and that is why it now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a ceasefire,” he told reporters at the White House.
The United Nations Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting late Sunday on the situation in Gaza.
Diplomats said the meeting, open to the public and set for 9:30 pm (0130 GMT Monday), was requested by council member Jordan, following a call by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Council’s 15 members held a meeting on Gaza Friday but failed to reach agreement on a joint declaration.
Since the conflict began on July 8, the council also held a first inconclusive meeting on July 10, before calling for a ceasefire in a unanimous declaration.
He condemned the “atrocious action” in Shejaiya and urged Israel to “exercise maximum restraint.”
“Too many innocent people are dying… (and) living in constant fear,” Ban told a news conference in Doha.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in Doha as part of a Middle East tour to push truce efforts.
Palestinian President Abbas has described the killing of 62 civilians in Gaza’s Shejaiya neighborhood on Sunday as “a crime against humanity.”
“Those who committed it will not go unpunished,” Abbas added.
An Israeli air strike on a home in the center of Gaza City killed eight people, including four children, Palestinian medics said Monday.
The new strike came shortly after Israeli shelling of a central Gaza hospital killed at least five people, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP.
Al-Qudra said the shells landed in the administration building, the intensive care unit and the surgery department.
Al-Qudra also said 45 bodies were recovered from the rubble of areas hit on Sunday, 11 of which were from Shejaiya, increasing Sunday’s death toll to 72, AFP reported.
The Israeli army said 13 soldiers had been killed inside Gaza on the third day of a major ground operation.
On Monday, Hamas’s armed wing the Ezzeddine al-Qassam brigade said two Israeli soldiers were killed in the Shejaiya neighborhood on Sunday.
Al-Qassam meanwhile claimed it had kidnapped an Israeli soldier, prompting celebrations in the streets of Gaza City and West Bank cities.