Sunday was the bloodiest day on the Gaza strip in the past five years, according to an AFP report. According to the report, no fewer than 13 Israelis and 97 Palestinians were killed as Israel ramped up the ground war, seeking to destroy the series of tunnels which Hamas has used to infiltrate and attack Israel.
This brings the total number of Palestinians living in the area governed by Hamas to 435. Many of those who have died have been non-combatant women and children. The main reason for the high civilian casualty rate is Hamas’ policy of placing their armaments in heavily populated areas. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly pointed out, Israel uses its rockets and other armaments to protect its citizens while Hamas uses its citizens to protect its rockets.
A Fox News report quotes the Israeli Prime Minister:
“All civilian casualties are unintended by us, but intended by Hamas. They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can… it’s gruesome. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead the better.”
Sunday marks the third day of the ground assault into the Gaza strip and the thirteenth day of the Israeli offensive. To date, a reported total of 18 Israeli soldiers have died in the ground operations.
Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire, called for by the International Red Cross, in order to evacuate the wounded and dead in Shejaiya, an area near Gaza City that has seen the heaviest fighting.
According to a FOX News report, an estimated 35,000 Palestinians have been displaced as a result of the heavy fighting. The report quotes displaced Shajaiyah resident Jawad Hassanain:
“The gate of hell has opened, and shrapnel came through the windows. From 12:30 a.m. until 4 a.m., all you could hear is heavy bombardment, the smell of fire and the smell of death. By 4:30, and after the call for the prayer, we were able to get in an ambulance.”
The world’s reaction to the sarin Gaza has been mixed, with representatives of Egypt, the United States, and other countries calling for Hamas to accept a truce and decrying the terror attacks that precipitated the current conflict while Turkey and others condemn Israel’s ground assault because of the civilian casualties.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is currently in Qatar trying to work out a truce or ceasefire with representatives of Hamas and Palestine, but Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has to date rejected all offers that could lead to a truce with Israel.