herald

Monday 23 October 2017

Israel threatens to 'escalate' Gaza attacks

Israel threatened to escalate the Gaza offensive to the "next stages" yesterday as the United Nations said that war crimes may have been committed.

Air strikes and tank shells killed another 47 people in Gaza, taking the number of Palestinians killed to 678, according to the health ministry.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said that three more soldiers were killed, taking their total military losses to 32.

All of these troops have died since Operation Protective Edge escalated into a ground invasion last Thursday.

tunnels

Moshe Ya'alon, the defence minister, visited troops near Gaza and warned of a further expansion of the offensive, designed to protect Israel's cities from rocket attacks and destroy a network of storage and attack tunnels dug by Hamas.

"We are preparing the next stages of the fighting after dealing with the tunnels and you need to be ready for any mission," Mr Ya'alon told the soldiers. "You need to be ready for more important steps in Gaza and the units that are now on standby need to prepare to go in."

Mr Ya'alon said the offensive had been "very successful so far", but added: "Hamas is trying to cause more casualties here, and we must remain vigilant - its highest goal is to kidnap a soldier."

On day 16 of Israel's offensive, Hamas was still able to launch rockets. Salvos of outgoing missiles could be heard in Gaza City during the day and evening.

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that Hamas was guilty of "indiscriminate attacks" by firing rockets at Israeli cities.

She also accused Israel of failing to do enough to protect civilians.

hnews@herald.ie

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