December 19, 2014
Palestinian death toll reaches 616 in third week of conflict
With the conflict entering its third week, the Palestinian death toll rose to 616, including nearly 100 children and many other civilians, Gaza health officials said.
The latest strikes killed a six-month-old infant and a 24-year-old Palestinian in northern Gaza, in addition to a Palestinian bombed on a motorcycle elsewhere in the territory, Palestinian health officials said.
The Israeli military said it had killed 183 militants.
Israel's casualties also mounted, with the military announcing the deaths of two more soldiers, bringing the number of army fatalities to 27 - almost three times as many as were killed in the last ground invasion of Gaza, in a 2008-2009 war.
Two Israeli civilians have also been killed by Palestinian rocket fire into Israel.
Addressing reporters, with Netanyahu at his side, Ban said: "My message to Israelis and Palestinians is the same: Stop fighting. Start talking. And take on the root causes of the conflict, so we are not back to the same situation in another six months or a year."
Kerry has said the United States would provide $47 million in humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip. He plans to stay in Cairo until Wednesday morning but has no set departure date from the region.
An Egyptian official who attended some of Kerry's meetings said Ban was working toward reaching a humanitarian truce, perhaps lasting for several days, to get aid into the territory. "The sensitivities between Egypt and Hamas are what is halting a final inclusive ceasefire deal," the official said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Western-backed Fatah movement also proposed a formula for ending the fighting, calling for an immediate ceasefire followed by five days of negotaitions, Palestinian official Azzam al-Ahmed said in Cairo.With Israeli shells and bombs hitting Gaza day and night, thousands of people have fled districts close to the border. The main U.N. agency in Gaza, UNWRA, said almost 102,000 people had taken shelter in 69 of its schools.
UNRWA said it found rockets hidden in a vacant Gaza school near two buildings housing refugees who have fled, in the second such instance of militants accused of storing weaponry in a school during the latest offensive.
An UNRWA statement said staff were removed from the building where the rockets were found adding that it "strongly and unequivocally condemns the group or groups responsible."