Israel intensifies Gaza shelling, warns of ‘protracted campaign’
The Israeli military intensified the shelling of Gaza overnight, killing at least 26 people and leaving hundreds injured in air and missile strikes. Israel's PM told citizens to prepare for a “protracted campaign” until the “mission is accomplished.”
At least 30 people were killed and 241 others injured in Gaza after Israel resumed shelling on Monday night, bringing the day's death toll to 44 people, Ma'an news agency reported.
In a televised address to the nation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier that the country has to be prepared for a “prolonged” campaign.
“We will continue to act with force and discretion until our mission is accomplished,” Netanyahu said, stating that Israeli troops will not leave Gaza until they have destroyed Hamas' tunnel network.
The home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was targeted and destroyed by the Israeli forces. There were no casualties reported in the air strike, according to the Gazan Interior Ministry, as quoted by Reuters.
Meanwhile, Israel reportedly told at least 400,000 Palestinians in northern Gaza to evacuate their homes via text and phone. The IDF confirmed sending out such warnings before the shelling was renewed.
“The situation is somewhat extraordinary,” journalist Harry Fear told RT on the phone from the Gaza strip. He said that he and his colleagues received warning phone calls from the Israeli army warning them to seek shelter, as they were planning to intensify the strikes.
According to Fear, the Israeli warning said that “tonight would be a very dangerous night” and that it would be “unsafe” for journalists to remain in the area of “West Gaza City.”
— Kate Benyon-Tinker (@katebt3000) July 28, 2014
“What we did see in Gaza City for the last couple of hours is certainly the intensification of fire both ways. We of course heard rockets being fired not from any specific location...and of course the strikes of this area as well,” Fear told RT.
Because many journalists did leave the area, “there will be less coverage of the ongoing bombardment,” he added. Based on his assessment on the ground, Fear said that “there's no chance of a ceasefire” in the short-term, as both sides continue to battle each other, and “because both sides want their positions fulfilled.”
Commenting on a previously reported Al-Shati refugee camp strike, Fear said he believes a “drone” is responsible for attacking the civilian site.
“This refugee camp is literally one of the most densely-populated places in the world. At around 5:15 local time a drone missile struck a man and decapitated him. The missile decapitated him and severely wounded one other man and also killed at least eight children,” Fear said, adding that he was at the scene “within moments.”
Fear said that after talking to witnesses on the ground, he remains certain that the camp is a “civilian area” with no militants hiding there, and that “this is a crime in a context of a very bloody operation.”
A total of 1,088 Palestinians – including 251 children – have been killed and 6,470 others injured in the 21-day Israeli military campaign, according to a Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman.
— UN Spokesperson (@UN_Spokesperson) July 29, 2014
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that Israel's tactic of warning civilians before the military assault will have a “further devastating humanitarian impact on the beleaguered civilians of those areas of the Gaza strip, who have already undergone immense suffering in recent days.”
Meanwhile, Ban warned that the UN ground presence in Gaza has limited resources “to cope with, or provide assistance to, an enormous extra influx of desperate people.”
The secretary-general also urged Israel to maintain “proportionality in any kind of military response” to Hamas rockets.