Israeli Airstrikes Intensify In Gaza Strip, Raising The Palestinian Death Toll Over 1,100
Barely a day after the United Nations called for a humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, Israel launched a new round of airstrikes on Hamas in what is viewed as the heaviest military operation since the conflict began three weeks ago. According to BBC News, at least 60 Palestinians were killed in the overnight assault, and U.N. staff members may also be among the dead. The Israeli government has warned citizens that the operation against Hamas will continue to increase in the coming days.
Reportedly damaged in the overnight bombardment of missiles and shelling was a power plant that served as the sole power station in the Gaza Strip. The plant was allegedly hit by an Israeli tank shell, which set fire to a fuel tank and caused the plant to shut down indefinitely. "The power plant is finished," its director, Mohammed al-Sharif, told Reuters.
Palestinian officials told the BBC that 55 homes were destroyed by Israeli missiles overnight. One of those homes reportedly belonged to former Hamas prime minister and current political leader Ismail Haniyeh.
The Israel Defense Forces confirmed via Twitter that the operation struck four of Hamas' "massive weapons caches" hidden inside mosques. The Israeli military also launched an attack on an underground Hamas tunnel leading into Israel near Nahal Oz, the IDF said on its website. A Hamas target was reportedly killed in the attack, as well as five IDF soldiers.
U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees said in a tweet on Tuesday that U.N. workers were killed in the overnight offensive, though the number of casualties is still unconfirmed. He added that the intensified violence caused thousands of Palestinians to flee, bringing the number of current Palestinian refugees to more than 180,000. Refugees are reportedly taking shelter at more than 80 UNRWA locations in the Gaza region.
Gaza health officials said on Tuesday that the Palestinian death toll has topped 1,100. A majority of Palestinians killed since the military assaults began three weeks ago were civilians. Children have been paying the price for much of this conflict, as eight more were reportedly killed on Monday when a rocket hit a refugee camp. The IDF claimed a misfired Hamas rocket hit the camp, while Hamas said it was struck by the Israeli military. Eyewitnesses have said the rocket appeared to be an IDF drone.
According to estimates from the United Nations, more than 225 children have been killed in these attacks since early July.