Over 60 Palestinians were killed on Sunday by Israeli shelling in a Gaza neighborhood, where bodies were strewn in the street and thousands fled for shelter to a hospital packed with wounded, witnesses and health officials said.
The mass casualties in Shujayeh, in northeast Gaza, were the heaviest since Israel launched its offensive on the Palestinian territory on July 8 after cross-border rocket strikes by militants intensified, Reuters reported.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the occupied West Bank, accused Israel of carrying out a massacre and declared three days of mourning.
Anguished cries of "Did you see Ahmed?" "Did you see my wife?" echoed through the courtyard of Gaza's Shifa hospital, a where panicked residents of Shujayeh gathered in family groups, seeking a safe haven. Inside, bodies and wounded lay on blood-stained floors.
Elderly men there said the Israeli attack was the fiercest they had seen since the 1967 Middle East war, when Israel captured Gaza.
Shifa hospital's director, Naser Tattar, said 17 children, 14 women and four elderly were among the 60 dead, and about 400 people were wounded in the Israeli assault.
Kerry describes incursion as catastrophe
U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, on Sunday appeared to criticize Israel’s claims about the targeted scope of its attacks on Gaza, as a open microphone caught him talking to an aide ahead of a TV interview.
“It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation, it’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Kerry, who was appearing on Fox News Sunday as part of a tour of all five main U.S. talkshows, said to an aide on the phone, in a frustrated tone.
Ahead of his interview with Fox News Sunday, Kerry said: “We’ve got to get over there. Thank you, John. I think, John, we ought to go tonight. I think it’s crazy to be sitting around.”
In his interview on CNN's State of the Union, Kerry said President Barack Obama would ask him to go to the Middle East soon to aid in efforts to secure a ceasefire.
Israel rejects ceasefire proposal: Hamas
As the number of dead mounted, Israel and Gaza's dominant Hamas movement agreed to a two-hour "humanitarian truce" in that area, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (1030 GMT to 1230 GMT), at the request of the Red Cross. Fighting however resumed with Israeli claims that Hamas broke the truce.
But a Hamas spokesman said the Israeli regime has rejected the 3-hour humanitarian ceasefire.
Sami Abu Zuhri said on Sunday that officials of the Red Cross contacted Hamas and suggested to broker a 3-hour ceasefire to enable ambulances to evacuate injured people and dead bodies.
Hamas agreed to the proposal, but the Israelis refused it, said Abu Zuhri. He highlighted that Israeli forces prevented ambulance services from doing their work.
“The Israeli occupation is committing a war crime in the full sense of the word in Gaza City and trying to conceal the crime from the world,” he charged.
Gaza's Health Ministry officials said over 400 Palestinians, many of them civilians, have been killed in the 13-day conflict and about 2,600 have been wounded.
On Israel's side, two civilians have been killed by cross-border fire and five soldiers have died in fighting. More than 50 Israeli troops have been wounded, hospital officials said.
While the Israeli military claims the latest deaths bring to seven its total casualty figure, the Hamas resistance movement insists that Palestinian fighters have so far killed dozens of Israeli troops in separate clashes and have also seized weapons from the Zionist forces.
Thousands fled Shujayeh, some by foot and others piling into the backs of trucks and sitting on the hoods of cars filled with families trying to get away. Several people rode out of the neighborhood of 100,000 in the shovel of a bulldozer.
Video given to Reuters by a local showed at least a dozen corpses, including three children, lying in rubble-filled streets, though the footage could not be verified independently.
Egypt, Qatar, France and the United Nations, among others, have all been pushing for a diplomatic solution, with little sign of progress.
Qatar was due to host a meeting between Abbas and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Sunday, a senior Qatari source told Reuters. Ban was due to travel to Kuwait, Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan during the week, a UN statement said.
The Qatari source said Abbas would also meet Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Saturday that Gaza ceasefire efforts have failed, Israeli radio reported.
In press statements following his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening, Fabius expressed his concerns that the failure to reach a ceasefire would lead to more civilian casualties.
Fabius's meeting with Netanyahu came as part of his regional tour in the Middle East, in which he also met with his Egyptian and Jordanian counterparts to discuss the situation in Gaza and efforts to broker a ceasefire.
Resistance forces hit 7th Israeli tank
Meanwhile, Palestinian resistance fighters struck another Israeli tank and killed a number of their forces during their ground incursion into the besieged Gaza Strip bringing the number of disabled Israeli tanks in the ongoing aggression to seven.
According to sources within the Palestinian fighters in Gaza, six Israeli tanks had already been hit by rocket-propelled grenades since Thursday, when the Israeli regime launched its brutal ground intrusion into the densely populated enclave.
This is while the war on Gaza is increasingly taking its toll on the Israeli military, with Palestinian fighters stepping up their retaliatory attacks on the enemy.
Over a thousand hold demo in Denver
Over a thousand protesters gathered in the city of Denver, Colorado, USA to condemn the ongoing brutal Zionist onslaught against the Gaza Strip, and show support for the people of Palestine.
Braving the unusually hot 30° C temperatures, an enthusiastic crowd of over a thousand demonstrated in solidarity with Gaza in Denver to protest the unrelenting attacks on Gaza by the Zionist entity.
The Tehran Times correspondent in Denver, Yuram Abdullah Weiler, said that the protest was so successful in attracting a broad spectrum of supporters that the Zionist-controlled media distorted the numbers, claiming that only hundreds participated. Right-leaning Fox news reported, “Hundreds gathered for a rally at the State Capitol.” Likewise, AP under-reported the true numbers of participants. However, to their credit, the Denver Post accurately reported that there were over a thousand protesters.
The densely populated coastal enclave has been under almost continuous bombardment since July 8, resulting in the deaths of over 300 Palestinians, of which 82% are civilians and 43% are women and children, according to the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.
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