25 July 2014
Last updated at 10:28
More than 118,000 people are now sheltering in Gaza’s UN-run schools, officials say
Efforts to secure a ceasefire between Israel and the militant Hamas movement are intensifying as the death toll in 18-day-old conflict continues to climb.
Gaza faced more Israeli shelling and air strikes overnight, while Israeli towns raised the alarm over Hamas rockets on Friday morning.
Israel’s security cabinet is due to discuss a seven-day truce plan backed by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
More than 800 Palestinians have now been killed, as well as 34 Israelis.
Most of the Palestinian deaths have been civilians, while 32 of Israel’s dead have been soldiers. One Thai national has also died in Israel.
In the latest incident to inflame tensions on either side, at least 15 people died at a UN-run school shelter on Thursday.
The deaths prompted outrage from Palestinians and from the UN, with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling it “totally unacceptable”.
Funerals for at least 10 of those killed were held early on Friday.
Graphic images from Gaza showed mourners weeping as the body of a one-year-old boy was carried through the streets and lowered into a grave.
Palestinians blamed Israel, which insisted it did not target the shelter, saying Hamas militants were firing from the area.
Israel launched its military offensive on 8 July with the declared objective of stopping Hamas firing rockets into Israel.
It has since discovered a network of tunnels used by militants to infiltrate Israeli territory, and has vowed to destroy them to restore security.
In other developments:
- At least two Palestinians died in overnight protests at Qalandia, in the West Bank, after 10,000 protesters massed and clashed with Israeli border police
- Clashes were also reported overnight in East Jerusalem
- Palestinian groups called for a “day of rage” on Friday in the West Bank and Gaza
- Israel says it killed a senior member of militant group Islamic Jihad in Gaza on Friday morning
- Rocket alert sirens were heard in central and southern Israel.
Rocket fire from Gaza caused alerts in several Israel towns on Friday
Working late into the night in Cairo on Thursday, John Kerry is reported to have presented a ceasefire plan to both Israel and Hamas.
He is expected to leave the region on Friday, whether or not a deal is agreed.
The plan is thought to include provision for a seven-day humanitarian pause in hostilities. Israeli reports suggest it would allow Israel to keep troops in Gaza to secure and disable Hamas tunnels.
Any plan must be approved both by Israel’s security cabinet and by senior Hamas leaders, including Qatar-based Khaled Meshaal.
In an exclusive interview, Mr Meshaal told the BBC he wants a ceasefire and end to Israel’s blockade as soon as possible.
“People cannot go for medical treatment or to work. Why are the people of Gaza being punished by a slow death in the world’s biggest prison? This is a crime,” Mr Meshaal told BBC Hardtalk.
West Bank protest: Nawal Assad, BBC Arabic, Qalandia
Palestinian leaders say this is the start of the “uprising of freedom and independence”. Thousands marched from the outskirts of Ramallah towards the Qalandia checkpoint, calling for an end to the Israeli occupation.
Youths threw stones and petrol bombs towards the checkpoint and tried to destroy the barrier. I heard the sound of rubber bullets and occasional live fire. Israeli police say they used sound bombs and tear gas.
The demonstration was called for by a group of youths on Facebook, among them the son of the popular imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has urged Palestinians to expand the protests, and leaders in the West Bank have called for a “day of anger” on Friday.
Life in Gaza
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) says a 3km (1.9 mile) wide strip, encompassing 44% of Gaza, has been designated as a no-go zone by the Israeli military during the current conflict.
Israel imposed restrictions on the Gaza Strip in 2006, after Hamas abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
The measures were tightened by Israel and Egypt in 2007, after Hamas ousted rival Fatah and forcibly took control in Gaza after winning elections the year before.
Hamas and Fatah announced a reconciliation deal in April, but the move was condemned by Israel – which regards Hamas as a terrorist group.
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