As many as 90 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers died overnight during heavy fighting in Gaza City's Shejaiya neighborhood.It was the deadliest day since the conflict between Israel and Hamas broke out nearly two weeks ago. At least 2 Israeli soldiers were killed and others were injured as they were met with anti-tank missiles and fire from automatic weapons during skirmishes. (Update: Israeli officials have updated that number: 13 Israeli soldiers died.)
Some context from the Times of Israel:
Military sources say the Shejaiya neighborhood in Gaza City is a Hamas stronghold and that more than 150 rockets have been launched from that area into Israel over the past two weeks.
Israel also claims that ten Hamas tunnels were uncovered in Shejaiya. The tunnels, the chief reason given for Israel's ground invasion of Gaza, have been used in infiltration attacks (and attempted attacks) that have killed at least two Israeli soldiers so far.
At the behest of the Red Cross, Israel and Hamas agreed to a localized humanitarian truce in the neighborhood that lasted two hours earlier today, but was eventually extended to four hours.
Israel alleges that the truce was broken several times by Hamas.
In response to the fighting and with the promise of more ahead, the IDF and the Israeli prime minister's spokesmen made their pleas:
PM on @BBCArabic: I call on Gazans to heed the IDF's warnings & leave for safe areas. Hamas wants you to die, you shouldn't die for Hamas.— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) July 20, 2014
Days ago, we warned civilians in Shuja'iya to evacuate. Hamas ordered them to stay. Hamas put them in the line of fire.— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 20, 2014
Meanwhile, Israel has come under heavy criticism for the increasing death tolls in Gaza. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the Israeli operation in Shejaiya “a heinous massacre.”
According to Politico, U.S. Secretary of State Kerry was caught on an open mic just before an interview on Fox News Sunday. In his remarks, Kerry seemed critical of Israel's expanding operation.
“It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation, it’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Kerry said to an aide on the phone, with some measure of frustration.
His comments seemed to be criticizing the Israeli government’s assurances about the limited scope of its attack and ground invasion of Gaza.
When confronted on air by host Chris Wallace, Kerry expressed remorse for the loss of civilian life, but reaffirmed Israel's right to self-defense. Kerry will arrive in Israel on Tuesday.