AS MONDAY MORNING broke in the Middle East, a number of Gazans were killed in Israeli air strikes, including two children and two adults in two houses levelled in the attacks.
The deaths of three other Palestinians, family members who were travelling in a car in central Gaza, brings the death toll of the latest surge of violence in the area to at least 85. Israel’s air campaign has now entered its sixth day.
The official Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Twitter account said this morning that a total of 848 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza during the same period.
The Pillar of Defence operation has seen the IDF target 1,350 sites in the Gaza strip, including Hamas police headquarters and buildings owned by what the army called chief operatives. The spokesperson also said underground rocket launchers, terror tunnels, training bases, Hamas command posts and weapon storage facilities were targeted overnight.
Three Israeli civilians have died from Palestinian rocket fire, while dozens more have been injured.
Calls for a ceasefire
On the diplomatic front, international leaders continue to call for a halt to the killings as fears of an Israeli ground invasion escalate. According to the Associated Press, thousands of soldiers, backed by tanks and armoured vehicles, have already been mobilised and dispatched to the border.
US President Barack Obama said he was in touch with players in the region in the hopes of bringing and end to the fighting. While defending Israel’s right to protect itself against the rocket fire, he also warned of the risks the Jewish state would take if it were to expand its air assault into a ground war.
“If we see a further escalation of the situation in Gaza, the likelihood of us getting back on any kind of peace track that leads to a two-state solution is going to be pushed off way into the future,” he added.
United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has said the conflict “must stop”.
In a statement, he described his alarm at the continuing firing of rockets against Israeli towns and urged all parties to cooperate with all efforts to reach a ceasefire.
He is due to travel to the region to “contribute to ongoing efforts to that end”.