Death toll rises as Israel pursues raids
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Israel pursues its heavy attacks on Gaza despite the night's UN resolution calling for an end to the conflict. A series of Israeli air and ground strikes made new Palestinian civil casualties early on Friday, according to medical sources.
The UN call for an immediate ceasefire to end the 14-day Gaza assault by the Israeli army failed Friday to stop the Jewish state from carrying out heavy attacks in the region.
Fourteen of the 15 members in the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for an "immediate, durable" ceasefire leading to the "full withdrawal" of Israeli forces from Gaza. Only the United States, Israel’s main ally, abstained as it wanted to see the outcome of a peace initiative by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
“The real surprise is that they let the resolution go through,” says Philippe Bolopion, FRANCE 24’s correspondent at the UN. “It is a sign that Washington’s patience is coming to an end."
Israel's security cabinet was meeting on Friday morning to discuss its response to the resolution. "Israel is acting and will act only according to its interests and the security of its citizens and its right to self-defence," a senior official quoted Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as saying.
The cabinet is also expecting to hear the conclusions of their special envoy to Cairo, Amos Gilad, after discussions on the conditions of a ceasefire were hosted by Egypt.
Heavy overnight raids
Whether the resolution will indeed mean anything inside Gaza remains to be seen, said FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Gaza, Rajaa Abou Dagga. “The resolution doesn’t offer any withdrawal schedule.”
“Even after they reached this decision, at least one house was attacked,” he added.
The total Palestinian death toll rose sharply to 780 as Israel carried new air raids on Gaza Friday.
The United Nations on Friday cited witnesses saying Israeli soldiers evacuated about 110 Palestinians into a house which Israeli forces repeatedly shelled 24 hours later, killing about 30 people.
The Israeli air force attacked more than 50 targets overnight, including rocket-launching sites, weapons production and storage sites, Hamas buildings and outposts as well as gunmen, the military said.
Palestinian medics said at least 12 people were killed in overnight air strikes. Around 20 people were also killed in Israeli strikes on Thursday, including a Ukrainian and a Moroccan woman, both married to Palestinians, they said.
|Palestinians gather at the site of a destroyed mosque following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City|
Palestinians gather at the site of a destroyed mosque following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City
Since midnight (2200 GMT Thursday) four missiles fired by Palestinian militants hit the Beersheva area, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Gaza, with no damage or injuries reported, a military spokesman said.
Protests in support of Palestinians expected
“The humanitarian situation is critical,” reported Sophie Claudet, FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Jerusalem. “A third of the dead are children and there’s no power in 75% of Gaza.”
The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) suspended its operations in Gaza after one of its convoys was hit by Israeli tank shells Thursday while the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) accused Israel of doing too little to help the wounded after rescuers found four small children clinging to their dead mothers..
Hamas criticised the decision by the agency, calling it illogical and inexcusable. “Its duty is to protect victims of war, not to abandon them," spokesman Fawzi Barhum said in a statement.
Meanwhile, thousands of police officers were deployed in occupied east Jerusalem on Friday after Hamas called for a "day of wrath" over the Gaza offensive following similar protests last week.
“This could lead to clashes between protesters and police or even between Hamas and Fatah,” warns FRANCE 24’s Claudet in Jerusalem.
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