Gaza toll rises to 184 as war takes deadly turn

* More than 1,280 wounded so far * UN says more than a quarter of those killed children * Human rights centre says more than three-quarters of victims are civilians

GAZA CITY: The death toll from Israel’s seven-day air campaign against Gaza rose to 184 on Monday, exceeding that of the last conflict in the besieged Palestinian territory, in 2012.
Five Palestinians were killed in two separate air strikes late Monday, hiking the toll above the 177 people killed in the last major air campaign by Israel in November 2012. Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said the strikes killed three people in Rafah in the south of Gaza, including a young child, and two people in Khan Yunis, also in the south. A UN official said on Monday that more than a quarter of those killed in Gaza since the violence began last week were children.
Earlier, a strike in Gaza City killed a young man, and another Palestinian died of wounds sustained in an earlier raid. East of Khan Yunis, an Israeli missile struck a motorcycle, killing 17-year-old Ziyad al-Najjar, Qudra said. His death came shortly after another strike in the same area, which killed a 37-year-old. A 60-year-old man was killed in a raid on a house in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, and two other people died in separate strikes elsewhere in the coastal enclave, Qudra said. Earlier, a man and a woman wounded in air strikes on Sunday died of their injuries.
In all, 14 people were killed on Monday, with the total number wounded in the conflict rising to 1,280. The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) said on Sunday that more than three-quarters of the dead were civilians. The bloodiest day so far was Saturday when 56 people were killed. No Israelis have been killed. Four have been seriously wounded since the start of the operation. Israel began Operation Protective Edge before dawn on Tuesday.
Washington’s top diplomat is to head to the Middle East today (Tuesday) to throw his weight behind diplomatic efforts to end the devastating week-long aerial bombardment of mostly civilian areas of Gaza by Israel. Israel’s punishing air campaign, which is in its seventh day, has prompted growing calls for a ceasefire. Ahead of an emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, Hamas said no serious moves had been made. “Talk of a ceasefire requires real and serious efforts, which we haven’t seen so far,” Hamas MP Mushir al-Masri told AFP in Gaza City.
“Any ceasefire must be based on the conditions we have outlined. Nothing less than that will be accepted,” he said, in a show of defiance in the face of deadly unilateral Israeli bombardment. Israel has said that it is not ready to countenance a ceasefire either, as it seeks to deal ever harsher blows to Hamas. 

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