Thirteen Israeli troops were killed overnight Sunday in Gaza, according to the Israeli Army, sparking the declaration that Israel was sending additional forces to the ground to "combat terror."
An armored troop carrier which was moving into the neighborhood of Shejaia took a direct hit from a shoulder-launched anti-tank missile, leaving seven Israeli soldiers dead, an Israeli security source told NBC News. Six more Israeli soldiers were killed in the fighting that followed, the source said.
Fifty-three Israeli soldiers were injured during the ground offensive on Sunday, and five of those were seriously injured.
Israeli shelling on Sunday left more 110 Palestinians dead, including women and children, a Ministry of Health spokesman told NBC News.
The rising death toll on both sides marked the deadliest day in the conflict since Israel started an air offensive on July 8, and the U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency session Sunday night to discuss the ongoing incursion.
The Israeli military announced a two-hour "humanitarian hiatus" on Sunday afternoon local time but the window of peace did not last long. Both sides blamed the other for violating it.
Israel launched 87 rockets on Sunday and more than 1,800 rockets since the beginning of the conflict, the Israeli army said.
In remarks Sunday with Khalid Bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel to "exercise maximum restraint and do far more to protect civilians."
At least 460 Gazans have been killed since the conflict began, the Ministry of Health official said. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) set up more than 61 shelters on the Gaza Strip for the 81,000 displaced residents seeking shelter, UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness told NBC News.
Doctors in Gaza said that hospitals are serving dual purposes: to treat the wounded and to shelter those in danger. But Gazans can't even be assured safety in medical facilities, according to Doctors Without Borders, who called on Israel to "stop bombing trapped civilians."
“This figure far exceeds the number seeking refuge with us in the 2008/2009 conflict, and it is continuing to rise,” Gunness said.
“While official claims that the objective of the ground offensive is to destroy tunnels into Israel, what we see on the ground is that bombing is indiscriminate and that those who die are civilians,” said Nicolas Palarus, a Doctors Without Borders field coordinator in Gaza.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in nationally televised comments Sunday that the operation was necessary in order to quell "mega terror attacks and kidnappings."
The increased presence of Israeli troops were sent to Gaza to "establish a reality in which Israeli residents can live in safety and security," according to an Israel Defense Forces statement.
First published July 20 2014, 8:44 AM