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Beisan Dhahir's (7) home was shelled during yesterday's intense bombing. Lefteris Pitarakis/PA
line of fire

'Stop bombing trapped civilians' - Doctors' plea as five are killed in Gaza hospital

Nine members of the same family were killed in an earlier air-strike.

ISRAEL SHELLED A hospital in the central Gaza Strip this afternoon, killing five people and wounding at least 70.

Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said that the 70 injured included at least 20 hospital staff, among them doctors.

The third-floor of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital had been hit by a tank shell.

The bombing happened only hours after Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) had issued a plea to Israel to ‘stop bombing tapped civilians’ in the besieged territory and to respect the safety of medical workers.

They say that an air-strike this morning hit less than 300 metres from a clearly identified MSF vehicle that was carrying a surgical team from the Israeli border, despite assurances that their safety has been assured.

“Shelling and air strikes are not only intense but are also unpredictable, which makes it very difficult for MSF and other medical workers to move around and provide much needed emergency care,” said Audrey Landmann, MSF medical coordinator in Gaza.

“While official claims that the objective of the ground offensive is to destroy tunnels into Israel, what we see on the ground is that bombing is indiscriminate and that those who die are civilians,” added MSF’s Nicolas Palarus.

The hospital strike came on the day that the death toll in Gaza rose above 500 following the bloodiest day in six years in the Palestinian enclave where Israel is pressing a punishing military operation.

According to figures released by the emergency services more than 20 people were killed in several strikes across Gaza on Monday and 45 bodies were pulled from the rubble in areas hit by heavy fighting a day earlier.

Mideast Israel Palestinians AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Separately, the Israeli army said it had killed “more than 10 militants” who had infiltrated southern Israel through two cross-border tunnels.

Militants killed inside Israel are not included in Qudra’s Gaza toll.

Among those killed on Monday was a family of nine who died in an Israeli strike on a house in the southern city of Rafah, he said.

Seven of the victims were children.

Four more people were killed in various strikes to the south and east of Gaza City, while another died in the northern town of Beit Hanun. There was also one other casualty in Rafah, he said.

Of the 45 bodies recovered on Monday, 11 were from Shejaiya, hiking the death toll from a blistering Sunday attack to 72 dead, he said.

Qudra has said 80% of the victims in Shejaiya were women, children and elderly people, with around 400 people wounded.

Another 23 of the bodies were pulled from a three-storey house belonging to the Abu Jamaa family in the southern city of Khan Yunis which was hit on Sunday, raising the overall death toll from a single strike to 28.

Japan Israel Palestinians Shizuo Kambayashi Shizuo Kambayashi

In a separate development, the Israeli army said it had killed “more than 10″ militants early Monday who had infiltrated southern Israel through two cross-border tunnels.

So far, Palestinian figures show 509 Gazans have been killed and more than 3,150 wounded since the start of the Israeli campaign to stamp out cross-border rocket fire on 8 July.

On the Israeli side, 20 people have died, including two civilians killed by rocket fire and 18 soldiers who were killed since the start of a ground operation late on July 17.

Army figures say 53 soldiers were injured on Sunday alone, five of them severely and 13 moderately, while military radio put the overall injury toll at more than 90 soldiers since the ground assault began.

Since the Israeli military started Operation Protective Edge on July 8 in a bid to stamp out rocket fire, Palestinian militants have fired 1,465 mortars and rockets that hit Israel, with the Iron Dome air defence system intercepting another 387, the army said.

Approximately 40 stuck Israel on Monday, one of them in the greater Tel Aviv area, while another 11 were shot down, the army said.

- Additional reporting by Rónán Duffy

Read: UN Security Council calls for “immediate truce” in Gaza >

Read: “It’s a massacre” – This has been the deadliest day in Gaza so far >

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