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Gaza deaths over 600, Hamas claims capture of Israeli soldier
Tuesday July 22, 2014 8:21 PM, IANS

The relentless Israeli military campaign dubbed Operation Protective Edge targeting the Gaza Strip, which has lasted for more than two weeks, has killed over 600 Palestinians and wounded 3,720 others so far, an official said Tuesday.

[Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, condemned the killing of civilians by Israeli shelling on Sunday calling it an 'atrocious action'.(Photo: Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera)]

Ashraf al-Qedra, Gaza health ministry spokesman, told reporters that the death toll has reached 609, while the number of those wounded hit 3,720, adding that two-thirds of the victims are civilians.

He also said that Tuesday, 11 Gazans were killed, including four women, one of them pregnant, in a series of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza city, as well as on northern and southern part of the strip, Xinhua reported.

Two women, who were sisters and in their fifties and sixties, were killed, while five others were wounded in an Israeli airstrike on Zeitoun neighbourhood in southern Gaza Strip, he said.

In a separate attack on northern Gaza, a pregnant woman was killed along with her unborn baby, the spokesman said, adding that "two more young men and a woman were killed in an airstrike on the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah”.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) confirmed Tuesday that a soldier had gone missing in action during its two-week air, naval and ground offensive in Gaza, Efe news agency reported from Jerusalem.

The soldier, who has not been identified, went missing early Sunday after an anti-tank rocket hit an Israeli armoured vehicle, killing seven other troops, media reported.

The Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas, which rules Gaza, had Sunday announced the capture of an Israeli soldier.

The abduction took place after Israeli ground troops last week entered Gaza, following days of heavy air and naval artillery bombardments on the Palestinian enclave within Operation Protective Edge.

At least 29 Israelis have died during the offensive, 27 of them troopers who perished in the fighting and two civilians killed by rockets fired from Gaza on Israel.

However, despite all the killings of civilians, as well as the damages done to the Gazan neighbourhoods, Israeli war jets and tanks continued Tuesday to hammer the Gaza Strip, while efforts seeking a truce deal between Israel and Gaza militants, which are still going on, seem not to have delivered any effective results in restoring calm between the warring sides.

After a failed attempt by Egypt to broker a peace deal, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry are now doing shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East in a bid to halt the most bloody conflict in years and mediate a ceasefire.

Meanwhile, the Gaza health ministry said in an emailed press statement that since the start of the Israeli war on Gaza, Israel has targeted 25 health centres and hospitals, while the latest attack on medical facilities was the one on al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deel al-Ballah in central Gaza Strip on Monday.

Al-Waqf ministry also said in a press release that Israeli war jets and tank shells destroyed 50 mosques all over the Gaza Strip.

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