Thirteen Israeli soldiers, scores of Palestinians killed in deadly day of fighting in Gaza Strip

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On Sunday, in the deadliest day of fighting for the Israeli military in several years, thirteen Israeli soldiers were reported killed in the Gaza Strip. Over 500 deaths of Palestinians have been reported in the Gaza Strip in the now-fourteen days of Israel's offensive against Hamas.

Over 67 deaths of Palestinians on Sunday, by one report well over 100 — both civilians and fighters combined — occurred in one area, the Gaza City suburb of Shujai'iya, following heavy fighting and shelling by Israeli forces.

Meanwhile, thirteen Israeli soldiers were killed Sunday, including two soldiers who were United States citizens. Furthermore, the armed wing of Hamas claimed in a statement, "We have captured a Zionist soldier and the occupation has not admitted that", and displaying a identification card and a serial number. The IDF is investigating the claim. A anonymous senior Israeli military source told The Guardian in regards to Hamas fighters, "We have to admit we were facing good fighters, very well equipped with sophisticated weapons systems, accurate weapons, heavy weapons including mortars, booby traps."

All this occurred while a United Nations Security Council meeting was held in New York City at the request of Jordan. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Rwanda's UN ambassador Eugene Gasana said, "The members of the Security Council expressed serious concern about the growing number of casualties. The members of the Security Council called for an immediate cessation of hostilities". Gasana continued saying, "The members of the Security Council called for respect of international humanitarian law including protection of civilians[...] The members of the Security Council emphasized the need to improve the humanitarian situation, including through humanitarian pauses."

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is in Doha, Qatar meeting with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement, "As I travel the region, I will continue to press for an [immediate] ceasefire — an immediate end to the Israeli military operation in Gaza and the rocket fire by Hamas and Islamic Jihad". Ban criticized Israel for the civilian death toll saying, “While I was en route to Doha, dozens more civilians, including children, have been killed in Israeli military strikes in the Shejaiyah neighborhood in Gaza[...] I condemn this atrocious action. Israel must exercise maximum restraint and do far more to protect civilians.”

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in press conference, "We will continue this operation for as long as it takes." Netanyahu also appeared on CNN saying Hamas uses civilians as human shields; "They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better". He further added, "We try to target military targets and unfortunately there are civilian casualties which we regret and we don't seek".