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New Foreign Affairs Minister "extremely concerned" as Gaza death toll tops 175

Six people have died today, including a man and a woman injured in air strikes yesterday.

A Palestinian confronts an Israeli soldier, left, during a demonstration near the West Bank town of Nablus.
A Palestinian confronts an Israeli soldier, left, during a demonstration near the West Bank town of Nablus.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

NEW FOREIGN AFFAIRS Minister Charlie Flanagan says he’s “extremely concerned” about the worsening of the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

It comes as the death toll from Israel’s ongoing air campaign against Gaza tops the 175 mark.

The number of deaths is now being put at 176. A UN official said over a quarter of the victims had been children.

In his first statement on the issue since taking office, Flanagan echoed the language used by his predecessor, Eamon Gilmore, with the statement placing blame for the situation at both sides’ doorsteps.

The violence now being witnessed in Gaza and Israel is unacceptable and it is incumbent on all sides to agree an immediate ceasefire to spare civilians from further violence and suffering.

“The Government has already clearly condemned both the rocket fire from Gaza into Israel as well as the very high civilian casualties resulting from Israeli military actions in Gaza.

“Both sides to this conflict need to exercise maximum restraint, fully respect international humanitarian law and avoid further actions which could escalate the conflict or result in more civilian casualties.”

The Fine Gael politician, who replaced Labour’s Gilmore in Friday’s reshuffle, says he’s concerned over expresses concern over “the worsening of what was already a dire humanitarian situation in Gaza”.

Gaza

In the latest strikes, a 37-year-old was killed when a missile struck a group of men near the southern city of Khan Yunis, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

A 60-year-old man was killed in a raid on a house in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, and two other people died in separate strikes elsewhere in the coastal enclave, Qudra said, without giving details.

Earlier, a man and a woman injured in air strikes yesterday died of their injuries, he said, raising to six the number of lives lost today as a result of the ongoing air campaign.

So far, more than 1,280 have been wounded.

Palestinians look at the damage to a house following an overnight Israeli missile strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. Source: AP/Press Association Images

The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) said yesterday that more than three-quarters of the victims were civilians.

The UN refugee for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has said more than a quarter of them were children.

“All indications are, and I find this particularly dramatic, that women and children make up a sizable number of the victims of the current strikes. Currently more than one quarter of the fatalities are children,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said.

The bloodiest day so far was Saturday when 56 people were killed in a series of deadly strikes, Qudra said.

No Israelis have been killed, although three people in the Jewish state have been seriously wounded since the start of the operation, medics said.

Israel began Operation Protective Edge before dawn on Tuesday in an attempt to halt cross-border rocket fire by militant groups.

Since then, more than 800 rockets have hit Israel, while some 187 others have been intercepted by its Iron Dome air defence system, the army said.

Of that number, 55 rockets struck Israel on Sunday with another 12 shot down, a spokesman said.

Includes reporting from AFP.

Read Israeli aircraft continue to strike Gaza as rockets fired from Syria and Lebanon

Read Russian missile system used against Ukraine, Poroshenko claims

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