World

Gaza Toll Near 340 As Israel Presses Ground War

NPR | July 19, 2014 3:44 p.m.

Contributed By:

Scott Neuman, L. Carol Ritchie

An Israeli Apache helicopter fires a missile towards the Gaza Strip on Saturday as  Israeli forces pressed ahead with a ground offensive.

An Israeli Apache helicopter fires a missile towards the Gaza Strip on Saturday as Israeli forces pressed ahead with a ground offensive.

Baz Ratner, Reuters/Landov

Updated at 7:55 a.m. ET.

More than 300 people have been killed and nearly 2,300 wounded in 11 days of war in the Gaza Strip and tens of thousands have been displaced in the fighting, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

The health officials say 318 Palestinians, including 70 children, have been killed in the conflict.

Israel’s military says since its ground invasion of Gaza began, militants there have fired more than 130 rockets toward Israel, NPR’s Emily Harris says.

Palestinians in the area where ground operations have taken place were warned by Israel a week ago to leave their homes in anticipation of a major escalation in the fighting. Emily says “By Sunday, almost 20,000 had taken refuge in schools run by a United Nations agency.” Since then, she says, the number housed in those schools has more than doubled to an estimated 47,000, according to U.N. relief workers.

The IDF says that an Israeli resident was killed and several others wounded in a Hamas rocket attack in the Negev area. NPR’s Ari Shapiro, reporting from Jerusalem, says the Israeli military reports that one soldier was severely wounded and two others slightly wounded in overnight fighting.

Reuters reports Israeli tanks and bulldozers dug in along a one-mile strip of the territory’s eastern frontier on Saturday. The Israeli Defense Forces said combat engineers were concentrating on destroying tunnels and hidden rocked launchers that Hamas has used to fire on major cities across the border, including Tel Aviv.

Reuters quotes IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner as saying that the open-ended operation had “severely impeded Hamas capabilities.”

Israel says it foiled one cross-border raid by Gaza militants who entered Israel through one of the tunnels, and ground troops destroyed several other tunnels.

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