Sickening scenes from Gaza as doctors are forced to use vegetable fridges to store bodies as Hamas denies ‘killing’ kidnapped soldier
- WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Fresh wave of air strikes this morning levelled mosques in Gaza on 26th day
- Hamas admitted armed wing may have seized 23-year-old Israeli Lieutenant Hadar Goldin during clash yesterday
- But spokesman said the group had lost contact with their own fighters meaning all were ‘probably’ killed by Israel
- Death toll stands at more than 1,650 Palestinians and 66 Israelis as U.S. pledges $225m to Israel’s rocket defences
New photos from Gaza show bloodied bodies piled high in a walk-in vegetable fridge as a fresh wave of violence engulfs the region, where Israel and Hamas have traded furious accusations over who is to blame.
Hamas admitted today it may have seized the Israeli soldier whose alleged kidnapping yesterday morning left a 72-hour truce in tatters.
But fighters insisted they did not kill 23-year-old Lieutenant Hadar Goldin – who is still officially considered missing – claiming instead that he was ‘probably’ killed as Hamas battled Israeli forces.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT
Bloodied: A medic stands among bodies which have been placed hastily in a walk-in vegetable fridge in Rafah, Gaza. Other images are too graphic to publish in full. Hamas admitted today it may have seized – but did not kill – the Israeli soldier whose alleged kidnapping yesterday morning left a 72-hour truce in tatters
Horror: A Palestinian relative stands in the fridge today among the mass of bodies, which have been bound up in blood-stained white sheets after Israeli strikes
Toll: The bodies of three children from the Al-Nirab family who were killed alongside their parents at a morgue in Gaza City this morning as fresh violence killed dozens
Medics: Civilians and medics discuss what to do with the children’s bodies on the floor of the morgue. Elsewhere in the Gaza Strip, corpses have been stored in fridges
Deaths: More than 1,650 Palestinians and 66 Israelis had died in the conflict as it reached its 26th day with no sign of abating, with attacks raining down on both sides
The group’s armed wing said it lost contact with its fighters as they ambushed advancing Israeli troops an hour before the ceasefire was due to begin yesterday in the Gaza city of Rafah.
Today’s statement came as Israel unleashed a fresh wave of air strikes which completely destroyed Gaza City’s Imam Al Shafaey mosque and damaged the historic al-Omeri mosque in the nearby city of Jabalia.
The statement by Hamas’ Qassam Brigades said the ambush happened at 7am, not after the truce began as Israel had alleged.
The armed wing wrote: ‘We lost contact with the (Hamas) troops deployed in the ambush and assess that these troops were probably killed by enemy bombardment, including the soldier said to be missing – presuming that our troops took him prisoner during the clash.
‘The Qassam Brigades has no information as of this time about the missing soldier, his whereabouts, or the circumstances of his disappearance.’
Israel continued to bombard Gaza today as both sides traded accusations that they had breached ceasefire agreements.
Left in ruins: Gaza was pounded again this morning on the 26th day of the conflict. The attacks completely destroyed the Imam Al Shafaey mosque in Gaza City overnight (pictured), where residents picked over the rubble to collect scattered copies of the Quran. The Israeli military insisted the mosques it hit were concealing weapons
Destruction: A mechanical digger was dwarfed by the collapsed minaret and main building of the mosque as a fresh wave of strikes continued today in Gaza City
Tower: Residents gathered at the ruins of the mosque, which the Israeli military said was singled out for bombing because it had been used to store weapons
War of words: Damage at the Islamic University of Gaza, which Israel insisted was being used as a weapons research and manufacturing site for militants
Furore: Israel said Hamas abducted Hadar Goldin, 23 (left) during an ambush yesterday. Right: Israel combats Hamas rockets using the Iron Dome defence system
Bombs away: An Israeli artillery fires a 155mm shell towards targets in the Gaza Strip from their position near Israel’s border with the Palestinian enclave today
At least 35 Palestinians were killed early today in the bombardment and shelling in and around Rafah, where health officials said the main hospital had to be evacuated.
Elsewhere in Gaza, Palestinian officials reported more than 150 airstrikes including several against mosques and one against the Hamas-linked Islamic University in Gaza City.
The Israeli military, which said it struck 200 targets over the previous 24 hours, insisted it had attacked five mosques because they were concealing weapons.
The military added the Islamic University was being used as a research and weapons manufacturing site for Hamas.
The death toll in the 26-day conflict now stands at more than 1,650 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and at least 63 Israeli soldiers and three civilians.
The three-day ceasefire would have allowed desperately-needed aid relief to reach the 1.8.million Palestinians who live in tightly-packed communities on the Gaza Strip.
Today the Israeli military told Palestinians who fled fighting in the 70,000-strong Gaza town of Beit Lahiya they could return, signalling its offensive in that part of the region was winding down.
‘The residents are advised to beware of explosive devices Hamas has spread across the area,’ the military added in a statement.
Strikes: The historic al-Omeri mosque in the nearby city of Jabalia was also damaged by an Israeli strike overnight, though its ancient minaret (right) remained intact
Rubble: Palestinian men inspect the damage at the historic al-Omeri mosque in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip. The death toll stands at more than 1,650 as Israel and Hamas trade accusations over the timing of yesterday’s raid, which Israel said led to the kidnapping of 23-year-old Israeli Lieutenant Hadar Goldin. He remained missing
Devastation: Survivors pick over damaged copies of the Quran at the Imam Al Shafaey mosque in Gaza City (left) while a boy sits outside his family’s house nearby
Wounds: Abdul Qadir Sahail, 11, gets his chest injury redressed in Gaza City. He was wounded three days ago in the shelling of a UN school in Jebaliya in Gaza
Mourning: Palestinian relatives carry the body of two month old Noor al-Saidy, killed during attacks on the Gaza Strip, during her funeral in Rafah in southern Gaza
Injuries: Medics said this Palestinian woman in Rafah, Gaza, was wounded by Israeli shelling which has continued over the last 24 hours as accusations flare
Funeral: Palestinians prepare today to bury Mahmud Al-Neirab, who was killed along with his wife and their three children after Israeli air strikes in southern Gaza City
Burial: A Palestinian man prepares to bury one of the five members of Mahmud Al-Neirab family, at the Beit Lahiya cemetery in the northern Gaza strip
Today’s statement by Hamas tells a different version of events to yesterday’s incident to that provided by Israel.
Israel said Palestinian gunmen stormed out of a tunnel to ambush its infantrymen in southern Rafah at 9.30am, one and a half hours after the truce began, killing two soldiers and hauling away Lieutenant Goldin.
But Hamas, though it admitted conducting an ambush, said it happened at 7am – before the start of the ceasefire – and all its men and the Israeli soldier were ‘probably’ killed in the fighting that followed.
The incident triggered a mid-morning wave of Israeli shelling in Rafah that killed 150 Palestinians and by early afternoon, Israel had officially declared an end to the truce.
Yesterday’s incident prompted the United Nations – which has also slammed Israel’s conduct – to criticise Hamas’ actions which the U.S. government described as ‘barbaric’.
President Obama called for the immediate return of the kidnapped soldier at the same time as Congress voted almost unanimously to pledge another $225million to restocking Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defence system.
Playtime no more: A Palestinian girl sits on a swing outside her family’s home in Gaza City, which witnesses said was damaged today in an Israeli air strike
Blame game: A damaged car in Gaza City. The 72-hour truce should have allowed humanitarian aid into Gaza but it broke down in less than 72 minutes
Tatters: Air strikes’ targets included the Shati (beach) refugee camp in Gaza city, where a Palestinian man is pictured looking into the crater of a home
Shreds: A Palestinian youth carrying tattered copies of the Quran which were recovered from the wreckage of the Imam Al Shafaey mosque in Gaza City this morning
View: Men, women and children looked out from a splintered window frame this morning after their home was damaged in what they said was an Israeli air strike
One of the most advanced missile defence systems in the world, the Iron Dome has been credited by Israel’s authorities with shooting down dozens of Hamas rockets.
Just eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted against providing the funding while 395 voted in favour.
The U.S. backs Israel in its pledge to continue searching for Hamas tunnels under the border between Israel and Gaza even when official ceasefires are declared.
Hamas, whose gunmen are dug in for battle in Gaza’s battered districts, deemed such Israeli moves potential provocations.
‘We informed the mediators who participated in arranging the humanitarian ceasefire of our agreement to cease fire against Zionist cities and settlements and that we cannot operationally cease fire against troops inside the Gaza Strip that conduct operations and move continuously,’ the Qassam Brigades said.
‘These enemy forces could easily come in contact with our deployed ambushes, which will lead to a clash.’
Demolished: Palestinians look for bodies under the rubble of a house demolished during the Israeli bombardment of Khuzaa in south eastern Gaza Strip
Pictured: Damage in Rafah. The U.S. backs Israel in its pledge to continue searching for Hamas tunnels under the border even when official ceasefires are declared
Remnants: A Palestinian man stands today in what was once his store, destroyed during the bombardment of Khuzaa in south eastern Gaza Strip
Damage: A woman and children pick over the wreckage of a home which police said was destroyd by an Israeli air strike at the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City
Salvage: Young Palestinian men rescue belongings from a house in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City as both sides trade blame over the latest wave of bloodshed
Looking out of the front door: A man and a boy inspect the damage after overnight air strikes in Gaza City. The conflict has claimed more than 1,650 Palestinian lives
The group said it had launched long-range rockets early today towards the Israeli cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv.
There was no word in Israel of Haifa being struck, but the military said its Iron Dome interceptor had shot down rockets over Tel Aviv and the southern city of Beersheba. No one was hurt.
The current conflict, among the most lethal in recent decades, began after three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and found dead in the West Bank. Israel accused Hamas of the kidnapping, which Hamas denied.
Israel launched a Gaza air and naval offensive on July 8 following a surge of cross-border rocket salvoes which later escalated into ground operations involving heavy tanks.
Israeli officials have long voiced concern that Palestinian guerrillas would try to capture a soldier or an Israeli civilian.
In 2011, Israel released more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit, a soldier snatched by Hamas five years earlier.
Exhausted: Israeli soldiers wash themselves this morning at a deployment area on Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. They were still searching for the missing soldier
War: An Israeli soldiers rides a moving tank near the border with Gaza. What began as a series of air strikes has escalated into a ground incursion over recent weeks
Taking stock: An Israeli soldier carries out maintenance on his tank as troops prepare for another deployment on the border with the Gaza Strip this morning
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2713964/Israel-pounds-Gaza-leaving-mosques-ruins-Hamas-admits-kidnapped-soldier-insists-fighters-did-not-kill-him.html#ixzz39IjtKJO6
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