Israel & Hamas War Escalates. 2 Israeli Soldiers Killed. Gaza Tunnels Destroyed, Palestian Death Toll Reaches 300 [Video/Pics]

A Palestinian child runs on debris from a destroyed house, following an overnight Israeli strike in Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza strip, Saturday, July 19, 2014.

Video After The Jump

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (Associated Press) — Israeli bulldozers demolished more than a dozen tunnels Saturday in the Gaza Strip, and Palestinian authorities reported intensified airstrikes and shelling as the death toll from Israel's ground offensive rose to at least 342 Palestinians. Diplomats struggled to revive a cease-fire.

Israeli soldiers uncovered 34 shafts leading into about a dozen underground tunnels, some as deep as 30 meters (yards), that could be used to carry out attacks, the military said.

Still, Palestinian gunmen managed to infiltrate Israel from Gaza using another tunnel and killed two Israeli soldiers and injured several others, the military said. At least one Palestinian was killed in the clash. Hamas said 12 of its fighters participated in the attack.

Sgt. Adar Barsano was killed July 19

Sgt. Adar Barsano was killed July 19

It was the second time Palestinians had used their network of underground tunnels to penetrate Israel in the current round of fighting. Israel embarked on its ground offensive late Thursday in part to seek and destroy the tunnels.

Pro-Palestinian protesters face police during a demonstration against violence in the Gaza strip, which had been banned by police, in Paris, July 19, 2014. REUTERS-Philippe Wojazer

Pro-Palestinian protesters face police during a demonstration against violence in the Gaza strip, which had been banned by police, in Paris, July 19, 2014

Thirteen heavily armed Palestinians sneaked through a tunnel from Gaza and emerged inside Israel near a southern community. The militants were killed by an Israeli airstrike after they popped out of the tunnel.

Shimon Daniel, a retired brigadier general and former head of the Israeli military's engineer corps, said the military knew that Hamas had a large number of tunnels designed to assault Israel.

"I think finding 13 tunnels in such a short time is a great achievement," he told Channel 10 TV.

Hamas tunnel

He said demolishing the tunnels is dangerous. Troops must assume the passages are booby trapped. Soldiers first close off the area and check for additional openings. Then robots go inside to look around, he said.

Mideast Israel Palestinians

Israeli forces' flares light up the night sky in the northern Gaza Strip, early Saturday, July 19, 

After that, the tunnels are destroyed either by special explosives or by heavy equipment. He said it can take up to 12 hours to destroy each tunnel.

"These tunnels aren't for hiding. They are intended for large attacks in Israeli communities and army bases," chief military spokesman Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz said.

Footage released by the Israeli military showed tunnels being demolished by army excavators and other equipment on the ground and by airstrikes from above.

An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires towards the Gaza Strip July 19, 2014. REUTERS/Nir Elias

An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires towards the Gaza Strip July 19, 2014. 

Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said the new round of airstrikes raised the death toll from the 12-day offensive to at least 342 Palestinians, many of them civilians.

In Israel, a Gaza rocket killed a man near the southern city of Dimona and wounded four people, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, marking the second Israeli civilian casualty from the fighting. An Israeli soldier was killed after the start of the ground operation, probably from friendly fire.

Casualties could mount quickly if the military moves deeper into urban areas.

Some 50,000 Palestinians are already staying in United Nations shelters, according to UNRWA, the U.N. refugee agency for Palestinians.

Early Saturday, Israeli tank fire killed at least five members of the Al Zawaydi family at their home in Beit Lahiya, including two children. In a separate incident, tank shell fire killed three members of the Hamooda family in their home, among them two children.

In Gaza City, two boys and a 12-month-old infant neighbor were killed Friday evening following the break of the Ramadan fast. On Saturday, at least two of the bodies were carried by somber relatives during a funeral procession in Gaza City.

APTOPIX Mideast Israel Palestinians

Palestinian relatives mourn for Qasim Alwan, 4, and Imad Alwan, 6, who were killed Friday by an Israeli tank shell, during their funeral in Gaza City, Saturday, July 19, 2014.

Israel says it is going to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and blames them on Hamas, accusing it of firing from within residential neighborhoods and using civilians as "human shields."

Palestinian children, who fled their families' houses following an Israeli ground offensive, sleep as they stay inside a classroom at a United Nations-run school in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip July 19, 2014. REUTERS-Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Palestinian children, who fled their families' houses following an Israeli ground offensive, sleep as they stay inside a classroom at a United Nations-run school in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip July 19, 2014.

The military said it has hit more than 2,350 targets in Gaza, including 1,100 rocket launchers, during the 12 days of fighting. It said that some 70 "terrorists" were and another 13 brought to Israel for questioning.

Gaza militants have fired more than 1,600 rockets at Israeli cities since July 8.

The military said also it had received intelligence reports that Palestinians had strapped explosives to animals and intended to send them toward soldiers. A donkey laden with explosives approached soldiers later on and blew up causing no injuries, it said.

An Egyptian truce proposal was rejected by Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007 and has demanded the lifting of an Israeli and Egyptian blockade as part of any cease-fire agreement.

Israel's ground attack came after it became increasingly exasperated with rocket fire from Gaza, especially after Hamas rejected an Egyptian cease-fire plan earlier in the week.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri on Saturday repeated a call for the two sides to adopt the cease-fire, saying it is the only offer on the table, despite efforts from Hamas backers Turkey and Qatar to broker a deal.

"This initiative still presents the chance for the two sides to cease fire, ending the bloodshed," he said. "It meets the needs of both sides. We will continue to propose it. We hope both sides accept it."

In a fresh effort to broker a truce, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was to leave Saturday for the Middle East to help mediate the Gaza conflict. A cease-fire is "indispensable" for urgently needed humanitarian efforts to succeed, the undersecretary-general for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman told an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Friday.

Israeli officials have said the offensive could last up to two weeks or possibly longer.

"The Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip will not surrender to the enemy and will not raise the white flag," Ziad Nakhala, a leader in the Islamic Jihad militant group, told a Palestinian radio station.

Hamas has survived Israeli offensives in the past, including a major three-week ground operation in January 2009 and another weeklong air offensive in 2012. It now controls an arsenal of thousands of rockets, including long-range projectiles, and has built a system of underground bunkers.

But Hamas is weaker than it was during the previous two offensives, with little international or even regional support from its main allies, Turkey and Qatar. Protests against the offensive took place Friday in Turkey, Jordan and the West Bank. Protests against Israel also continued in European countries.


Deitch reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writers Aron Heller in Tel Aviv, Yousur Alhlou in Jerusalem, Sarah El Deeb in Cairo and Lefteris Pitarakis in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, contributed to this report.

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Israel launches ground assault in Gaza as efforts to broker cease-fire fail

Photo sources: Reuters and Associated Press

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Comment by bisd on July 21, 2014 at 7:33am
@This5 tell em the truth brother, just an example of the zionist israel would tell a lie to the world to manipulate their opinion, something that is used to transfer food is called a terror tunnel on the zionist controled news. just like how they are using the "hamas" they created as an excuse to commite genocides for decades. and seem like they are innocent and just defending themselves. the zionist jewish state of israel is hiding behind the nazi holocaust, something that was part of the zionist plan. they need to make it seem like they are the victims and they have a right and all that b*******. dont get fooled. a documentry i would strongly suggest is called israel occult zionism, educcate yourself
Comment by bisd on July 20, 2014 at 6:00pm
please ignore all those undercover zionist disinformation agents on here talking about how israel is the good guy. all this son of a b**** talks about is how he hates muslims and arabs thats why all the zionist israel war crimes are justified, get the f*** outta here homo a** b****. you never hear about any deaths from the "hamas" attacks because hamas works for israel, they were created by the zionist israel to use them to manipulate opinions so zionist israel can seem innocent and keep doing genocides like they been doing since they stole the land of palestine. just like how they did 9/11 to start a war on terror, which is complete b******* just for resources and zionist agenda. prove me wrong i dare you you snake in the grass phony asses (@ACE @chris) get the f*** outta here with all that b*******
Comment by bisd on July 20, 2014 at 5:32pm
just another day in the zionist israel invasion and creating a problem so people can accept it when israel does genocides like they been doing since they invaded(prove me wrong on those facts b**** i dare you) israel is the true terrorist. zionism=nazism dont listen to these b**** a** disinformation agents on here talking about how israel is the good guy and they are peacefull and they have every right. get the f*** outta here you son of a b**** you dont know s***, not a damn thing. you live in america, news about israel and their zionist war crimes are not told like they are in the western media since zionist israel controls america and all the media.
Comment by bisd on July 20, 2014 at 5:27pm
@chris take your zionist punk a** somewhere else because you cant prove s***, people are waking up to the zionist cult deception on how they create order out of chaos shut me up if you dare b****. @Ace you have no damn knowledge of the situation in palestine and the zionist israel occupation so shut your bihole phony a** just coming here to disinform everyone to support your BS. get the f*** outa here just because there is something you dont like about a certain group of people you blame everything on them to the point wher you would try to change history, not happening you dumb a** d******. get the f*** outta here israel is the real terrorist and you can do your own research on zionism and their plan for one world government
Comment by chris on July 20, 2014 at 12:27pm
i like how these fruit loops always use the education remarks as if that somehow backs up their arguement. guess what dip s*** (bisd) education gives you the knowledge to see the difference between propaganda and fact.
Comment by BIGSOLO on July 20, 2014 at 12:26pm
Those so called Jews have nothing to do with the Jews in the Bible. Their DNA is Proof... DNA doesn't lie
Comment by BIGSOLO on July 20, 2014 at 12:24pm
Those Jews don't even belong there... The U.S. and Europe put them there by taking peoples land.. so I truly doubt there will ever be peace if you come and take peoples land then treat them like 2nd class citizens in their own homeland... #FreeGarza
Comment by Ace on July 20, 2014 at 11:46am
Since you are so good in conspiracies why don't you ask yourself what sort of war has no men casualties?? It's always children and women dead were are the men?? R they immune to bombs?? NO the ans is "self genocide" using women and children as human shields because to them their life isn't worth anything that's why they always marry too many women and have many children
Comment by Ace on July 20, 2014 at 11:44am
@ Chris bisd is jus delusional ignorant and miss guided that's why he believes what he believes
Comment by Ace on July 20, 2014 at 11:33am
So bisd tell me something how long have the Israelites lived on that land? U keep talkin about 1948, take an educated guess?? About black Muslim!! Smh

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