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article imageGaza death toll surpasses 300 in latest Israeli incursion

By Nathan Salant     Jul 20, 2014 in World
Jerusalem - As Palestinian deaths rose Saturday to well over 300, Israeli officials said their stepped-up bombing attack had destroyed 95 rocket-launching sites and 13 tunnels under the borders of the Gaza Strip.
Eleven people have been killed in Gaza since morning as Israel continued its assault in an attempt to stop missile fire from the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.
More than 70 percent of the 339 fatalities are civilians, and more than a fifth are children, Gaza's health ministry told Cable News Network (CNN).
Israel said more than 1,600 missiles have been fired at its cities from Gaza since July 8, when the attack it calls Operation Protective Edge began.
Israel's missile defense system intercepted 346 of those missiles, but two Israelis have been killed and several wounded so far, CNN said.
The Israeli Defense Force claims to have struck more than 2,300 sites in the Gaza Strip, CNN said.
Israel is reporting that its military intercepted an attack squad that entered Eshkol through a tunnel from Gaza and also was forced to kill and detonate a donkey carrying explosives near Rafah.
Hamas [Unlink] forces also shelled an Israeli armored vehicle Saturday near Rafah, CNN said.
Warnings about missiles from Gaza also sounded in Ashkelon, Rishon Letzion, Rehovot and the Biblical city of Beer Sheva, CNN said.
A rocket exploded near Beer Sheva but in an unpoulated area.
Al-Aqsa TV said Friday that Israel sent text messages to many Palestinians telling them of safe corridors to reach central Gaza, and before launching its land attack, dropped leaflets in 14 Gaza areas, urging residents to leave temporarily.
But many residents had no place to go, CNN said, since Gaza's border crossings with Israel and Egypt have been closed.
"The IDF is a moral military without peer; it does not aspire to harm any innocent person," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday.
"We are operating only against terrorist targets, and we regret any inadvertent civilian casualties," he said.
The United Nations agency that helps Palestinian refugees asked for an additional $60 million to aid the displaced in Gaza who have sought refuge in 44 school buildings, CNN said.
Netanyahu said he approved the long-threatened invasion after Hamas turned down a ceasefire proposed by Egypt, which Israel accepted.
But Hamas officials said they were not consulted when the ceasefire proposal was drafted, and said it did not include several of the organization's demands.
Hamas is demanding that Israel release prisoners and relax its seen-year blockade of the territory, which broke away from the Palestinian Authority in 2006.
"We have some demands; they should listen to us," senior Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad told CNN.
"We are not against this ceasefire, we want to live;" he said, "we want to be also in a good situation."
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