Israel, Hamas defy truce calls as deadly violence escalates
GAZA CITY/JERUSALEM, AFP
July 13, 2014, 2:34 pm TWN
GAZA CITY/JERUSALEM - The world has implored Israel and Hamas to end hostilities as the toll from Israeli air strikes rose to 162 and Gaza militants fired more rocket salvos, but both sides have rejected a truce.
Saturday was the bloodiest day since the conflict erupted on Tuesday, claiming 56 Palestinian lives including a two-year-old child and a 73-year-old woman.
Israel continued to build up troops along the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground invasion, warning Palestinians in northern Gaza to evacuate their homes.
With the rising Palestinian death toll, and with no Israelis killed, the UN Security Council unanimously urged Israel and Hamas to respect "international humanitarian laws" and stop the loss of life.
The 15-member council urged a return to "calm, and restitution of the November 2012 ceasefire", referring to Gaza's last deadly full-scale conflict.
The chief diplomats of Britain, France, Germany and the United States are due to discuss how to achieve a truce when they meet in Vienna on Sunday.
Israel's aerial campaign -- the largest and deadliest since 2012 -- saw strikes start early on Saturday, including one that hit a centre for the disabled, and another that killed two nephews of Gaza's former Hamas premier, Ismail Haniya.
Rockets fired from Gaza targeted Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, with several intercepted over Israel's commercial capital and Jerusalem-bound projectiles hitting two southern West Bank cities.
Many have been intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system.
Centre for disabled hit
An attack on the northern Gaza Strip hit the centre for the disabled, killing two disabled women and wounding four, the centre's director said.
"They didn't understand what was happening and they were so frightened," Jamila Alaywa said of those inside the care home.
"They fired the rocket and it hit us without any warning."
Later on Saturday night, an Israeli strike hit the Tuffah district in eastern Gaza City, targeting a home and a mosque and killing nearly 20 people, medics said.
Among the wounded was police chief Tayseer al-Batsh, officials said.
In another strike in the evening, three people were killed in Rafah in south Gaza.
And around dawn on Sunday a 14-year-old Palestinian boy died when a Israeli air strike hit his home in Jabaliya.
Meanwhile four Israeli soldiers were lightly wounded during an operation targeting a rocket launch site in northern Gaza, the Israeli army said.