Washington and the United Nations demanded an "immediate cease-fire" in Gaza early Monday as Israel pressed a blistering assault on the enclave, pushing the Palestinian death toll to 514.
As world efforts to end the fighting gathered pace, Israel said it killed 10 Hamas fighters in an early morning gun battle in southern Israel after they used tunnels to get across the border.
At an urgent meeting on Gaza, the UN Security Council urged an "immediate cessation of hostilities" in a call echoed by U.S. President Barack Obama in a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
With growing concern over the number of civilian deaths, Washington said it was dispatching Secretary of State John Kerry to Cairo for talks on an Egyptian cease-fire proposal, which was rejected by Hamas last week.
Following the deadliest day in Gaza in more than five years. in which at least 140 Palestinians were killed, medics pulled another 45 bodies from the rubble early Monday, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.
And 15 more Palestinians were killed in a series of strikes across Gaza, one of which hit a house in the southern city of Rafah, killing seven children and two adults, Qudra said.
As the diplomatic efforts gathered steam, hundreds of people could be seen flooding out of the northern town of Beit Hanun, a day after many thousands fled an intensive Israeli bombardment of the eastern district of Shejaiya.
At least 72 people were killed Sunday in Shejaiya during a punishing Israeli operation which reduced much of the district to rubble and left charred bodies lying in the streets.
Qassam captures an Israeli soldier
The Ezzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, the military arm of Hamas, said late on Sunday that it managed to capture an Israeli soldier during clashes with the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip.
"Qassam Brigades managed to capture Israeli soldier Shaul Aaron during clashes in the Gaza Strip," brigades spokesman Abu Ubaidah said in a televised address, according to Anadolu Agency.
The brigades spokesman also mentioned the military card number of the soldier.
Thousands of Palestinians, meanwhile, took to the streets to celebrate the ability of the brigades to take the Israeli soldier as a prisoner.
Hamas said on Saturday evening that moving the ground operation into Israeli territory is "a critical development" in the conflict.
A spokesperson for Hamas, Fawzy Barhoum, said in a brief statement that this tactic has shocked the Israeli enemy. "Israel has had to abort its plans," he claimed. "We have confused its calculations."
The military wing of Hamas, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, also announced on Saturday evening the killing of 11 Israeli soldiers in two operations inside Israel. One Al-Qassam fighter was killed during one of the operations.
Nasrallah vows Hezbollah will stand by resistance in Gaza
Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has vowed that his resistance party will stand by the resistance in Gaza.
“Hezbollah and the Lebanese resistance will stand by the Palestinian people’s uprising and resistance in our heart, willpower, hope and destiny,” Nasrallah said in a late-night telephone call to Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, a Hezbollah statement said Monday.
Nasrallah also expressed Hezbollah’s support for Hamas’ “rightful demands to end the current battle.”
The statement said Mashaal’s remarks were reassuring that the Palestinian resistance “will remain steadfast and make a second victory in July, God willing.”
Nasrallah warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Palestinian resistance was stronger than he thinks.
“If Netanyahu is counting on governmental and international support in his [Gaza] offensive, the resistance in Gaza relies by all means on the strongest popular support,” Nasrallah said.
The statement said Nasrallah also discussed developments on the battleground in Gaza in a telephone call with Ramadan Abdullah Shalah, the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement.
Nasrallah stressed both “Hezbollah’s and the Islamic resistance in Lebanon’s support for the resistance in Gaza,” the statement added.
Kuwait urges UN chief to stop Israeli 'aggression'
Kuwait called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Monday to urge the international community to put an end to the Israeli "aggression" in Gaza which has claimed 508 lives.
The call came in a meeting between Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Sabah and Ban who arrived in Kuwait Monday in the second leg of a regional tour aimed at pushing for a cease-fire in Gaza.
The UN chief was separately received by Kuwait Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, the official KUNA news agency reported.
The foreign minister "renewed Kuwait's support for the Palestinian people and condemned all Israeli acts of aggression," KUNA said following the meeting.
"He called on the UN Secretary General to urge the international community to shoulder responsibility to put an end to this dangerous aggression," it said.
Kuwait, which holds the rotating presidency of the Arab League and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, received Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal Sunday and expressed support for the Palestinians.
Israel uses illegal weapons in Gaza
Meanwhile, experts and witnesses said Monday that Israeli occupation forces are using lethal and internationally banned weapons in their aggressive war against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli warplanes fired white phosphorus munition in the eastern Gaza Strip. White phosphorus burns fiercely and can set cloth, fuel, ammunition and other materials on fire, and cause serious burns or death. It was heavily used by Israel during its savage war on Gaza in 2008/2009, and caused many severe casualties.
Meanwhile, witnesses said that the Israeli occupation used flechette bombs on Saturday in the Shujaya neighborhood causing the death of 100 civilians in the bloodiest day Gaza has witnessed so far.
Doctors saw bodies with nail shrapnel, and removed them from the wounds of those who came into hospital. While, several people and journalists collected nails from bomb sites and posted their photos on Facebook.
In the early days of the Israeli war, Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert told a press conference in Al-Shifa Hospital that he found effects of DIME weapons on the bodies of the Palestinian casualties.
Subscribe to our RSS feed to stay in touch and receive all of TT updates right in your feed reader