Israeli air strikes pounded more targets in Gaza, including a rehabilitation center and a mosque believed to be hiding rockets, raising the death toll to at least 135 since the offensive began five days ago, officials said Saturday. At least 75 percent of the dead were civilians and 40 percent were women and children, Palestinian health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra told NBC News. A further 920 people have also been wounded — of which more than half were women and children, al-Kidra said.
Saturday's air strikes left nine dead, including two disabled women at the rehabilitation center, Reuters reported. As the aerial attacks entered the fifth day, international pressure mounted for a negotiated ceasefire. The U.N. Security Council voiced its concern about the welfare of civilians on both sides of the conflict, calling for a ceasefire between Palestinians and Israelis on Saturday. The Security Council also expressed support for resuming negotiations between the two groups "with the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on the two-state solution." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously refused to rule out a ground war in Gaza. The Israeli Army said that since the beginning of so-called Operation Protective Edge, Gaza has fired approximately 690 rockets and mortars into Israel.
— Lawahez Jabari
Reuters contributed to this report.
First published July 12 2014, 3:57 AM