Sat July 12, 2014
Death Toll At 135 In Israeli Airstrikes On Gaza
Originally published on Sat July 12, 2014 3:00 pm
This post updated at 5:00 p.m. ET.
At least 145 people have been killed and more than 1,000 wounded since Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip began five days ago, according to Palestinian officials. The offensive has come amid a barrage of Hamas rocket fire directed at Israel. NPR's Ari Shapiro reports that Israeli tanks and reserve troops are poised for a possible ground invasion.
Hamas issued a warning that it would target Tel Aviv at 9 p.m. Saturday night and rockets were fired from Gaza right about that time, NPR's Emily Harris says. So far, no Israelis have been killed in the fighting.
One Israeli airstrike hit a pair of mosques, which the Israeli military says were concealing a cache of rockets. A Hamas spokesman in Doha, Qatar, said the bombing of the mosques shows that Israel is "barbaric" and "hostile to Islam."
Later, another Israeli strike on the home of Gaza's police chief killed 15 Palestinians, the Gaza health ministry said.
The Israeli military warned residents of northern Gaza to evacuate the area "for [your] own safety, according to Reuters. Emily says "Residents who got warnings say they fear a ground attack is imminent. But the Israeli military says it is letting residents know Hamas is operating in the north and it's dangerous to stay nearby."
In a statement on Friday, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said international pressure will not deter the campaign to stop the Hamas attacks.
"I will end it when our goals are realized," Netanyahu said, "and the overriding goal is to restore peace and quiet."
On the possibility of a ground invasion of Gaza, Netanyahu said: "We are weighing all possibilities and preparing for all possibilities."
In New York, the U.N. Security Council unanimously called for a cease-fire. The 15-member Security Council issued a statement calling for a de-escalation, restoration of calm and a resumption of Mideast peace talks, according to The Associated Press.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, referring to "deeply disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes," said Israel may be in violation of international prohibitions against targeting civilians.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that the U.S. stands ready to try to broker an end to the fighting.
The AP says:
"In Gaza, residents remain torn between fear for their safety and sadness over the loss of a normal Ramadan, usually a time of deep spirituality leavened by great joy and celebration."
"'The situation is very bad and not usual at all,' housewife Umm Al-Abed said. 'People in the month of Ramadan used to visit each other and go to buy things that are only sold during Ramadan. But now because of the atmosphere of war, people are afraid to go out and there are no salaries for anyone.'"