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Israel’s Gaza campaign in seventh day as rocket fire continues

Israeli air strikes on Gaza and rocket fire on Israel have continued, on the seventh day of Israel’s operation against Palestinian militants.

Palestinian officials say at least 175 people in Gaza have been killed since the offensive began last Tuesday.

Israel says nearly 1,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza in that time. It said it shot down a Palestinian drone near Ashdod on Monday morning.

Thousands of people have fled homes in northern Gaza after an Israeli warning.

Israel has massed thousands of troops on the border, amid speculation of a possible a ground invasion.

The current wave of violence followed the killing of three Israeli teenagers in June and the suspected revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem.

On Monday Israeli officials said three arrested Israeli Jews had now confessed to the murder of the Palestinian, Mohammed Abu Khdair.

A court gagging order has been eased but the names of the three, including two minors, have not been released. They have been remanded in custody.

In the latest developments:

  • The UN says 17,000 Palestinians in northern Gaza have sought refuge in its facilities and that 47 of the buildings have been damaged by air raids
  • Rockets were fired from both Lebanon and Syria into northern Israel, drawing Israel artillery in response
  • A rocket fired from Gaza hit electricity infrastructure in Israel that supplied power to Gaza, cutting power to about 70,000 people, the Israeli military said
  • UK Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed 27 British nationals were evacuated from Gaza on Sunday night

Arab foreign ministers were due to meet in Cairo on Monday to discuss the crisis.

Egyptian state media reported that US Secretary of State John Kerry would be in Cairo on Tuesday to try to help broker a truce, but the US has not confirmed this.

Hamas Drones

The UN has estimated that 77% of the people killed in Gaza have been civilians. However Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Lt-Col Peter Lerner disputed the figures, saying they were based on Hamas sources and were not objective.

Col Lerner told the BBC that Israel had aborted certain attacks for fear of killing civilians.

Israel says it is targeting Hamas militants and “terror sites”, including the homes of senior operatives. It says it has struck some 1,320 such sites.

“We do not wish to harm civilians in Gaza, but these civilians must know that remaining in close proximity to Hamas terrorists and infrastructures is extremely unsafe,” the IDF said.

The drone shot down over Ashdod on Monday was brought down by a Patriot missile, Israel said.

The armed wing of Hamas, the Izzedine al-Qassam brigades, issued a statement saying it had three types of drone – one for intelligence-gathering and two for military missions – and that it had lost one of them on Monday.

At least four Israelis have been seriously injured since the violence flared, but none have been killed. The latest serious injury was of a girl in Lakiya on Monday, the IDF reported.

A Palestinian health ministry spokesman has said 1,260 people have been injured in Gaza in addition to those killed.

Some 800 Palestinians holding dual citizenship began leaving Gaza via Israel’s Erez Crossing.

However, Gaza resident Sawla el Tibi told the BBC it was too dangerous to leave her home. “[There is] no safety at all to walk on the street… all of Gaza Strip is burning right now,” she said.

The Palestinian Authority’s envoy to the EU, Leila Shahid, accused Israel of “state terrorism”.

She said: “This is the third time the Israeli army has launched a unilateral war against the population of Gaza. [It] pretends that it is only bombarding sites where rockets are launched from Gaza, and ultimately the ones who pay the bill are women, families and children.”

But Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett told the BBC that Hamas was responsible for “every single death in the Gaza Strip”.

“When you put a family as a human shield defending missile launchers, when you hide missiles and weapons within hospitals, you are responsible for killing your own civilians,” he said.

The UN Security Council has called for a ceasefire and renewed peace talks.

  1. Enemy fires missile or artillery shell
  2. Projectile tracked by radar, data relayed to battle-management-and-control unit
  3. Data analysed and target co-ordinates sent to the missile firing unit
  4. Missile is fired at enemy projectile