Tension grows as Israel intensifies offensive on Gaza

Israel/Gaza air strike

Spokesman of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, said 68 people have been killed since the airstrikes started Tuesday.

A fresh airstrike by Israel in Gaza on Thursday claimed the lives of seven Palestinians as the move worsened the tensions in the region and drew international concerns.

Israel has been launching a large-scale aerial attack, called “Operation Protective Edge”, since Tuesday in response to hundreds of rockets fired into Israel by Gaza militant groups, mainly Hamas movement.

Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, confirmed that seven civilians, including three women and four children, were killed in the intensive Israeli airstrikes on three houses in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis.

He said the death toll in the airstrikes which started on Tuesday had climbed to 68 and more than 400 others were wounded.

Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said that “targeting women and children was a proof of the Israel failure in confronting the armed Palestinian.

“We assert that the occupation (Israel) will soon regret the moment it thought of committing all these crimes,” he said.

The Hamas armed wing al-Qassam Brigades said in a statement sent to reporters that it fired 279 rockets into Israel within two days, while other militant groups fired more than 100 rockets into Israel.

The UN Security Council has called for an emergency meeting for Thursday on the escalating violence, following a request by Arab envoys and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Mr. Ban on Wednesday called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to restore a political horizon, warning the region was facing one of the most critical tests.

The UN chief firmly condemned the multiple rocket attacks launched from Gaza on Israel, stressing that such attacks are unacceptable and must stop.

He also urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to exercise maximum restraint and to respect international obligations to protect civilians.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Reyad al-Malki said President Mahmoud Abbas called for a meeting of contracting states of Geneva Conventions to end the offensive in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

France has urged Israeli officials and Palestinian authorities to urgently resume peace negotiations to reach “a fundamental solution” to end the deadlock in the Middle East and ease tensions in the region.

Romain Nadal, French Foreign Ministry’s spokesman said the recent wave of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be discussed at the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council scheduled for July 22.

China also expressed its deep concern over the tensions and called for an immediate ceasefire.

Hong Lei, Spokesman Foreign Ministry, said “China believes that military forces cannot resolve the issues, but create more feuds.

He said the latest cycle of violence was the worst since an Israeli offensive against Gaza in 2012 that also aimed to stop Palestinian rocket attacks. (Xinhua/NAN)


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