Gaza toll passes 1,300 on day 23 of Israeli assault

Gaza toll passes 1,300 on day 23 of Israeli assault

At least 76 people died in Israeli strikes across Gaza Wednesday, including 16 killed when shells hit a U.N. school, sending the Palestinian toll from 23 days of fighting above 1,300, AFP reported.

The deadliest strike was at a U.N.-run school in Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, where 16 people were killed and scores were wounded when two shells slammed into the facility, drawing a furious denunciation from the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees.

In another strike on a house in Tuffah neighborhood in northeastern Gaza City, seven members of the same family were killed, among them four children and a woman, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

In the southern city of Khan Younes, a single strike killed nine members of the same family, including a child, Qudra said, and in a later incident, seven members of another family also died as Israeli tank shelling struck the city.

Later in the day, medics pulled the bodies of another seven people from the rubble of a house in Khan Younes, also from the same family.

In another shelling attack in Gaza City, an 11-year-old disabled girl was killed, and a 16-year-old girl died in a strike on central Gaza.

Another 28 people were killed in various attacks across the Gaza Strip as Israeli ground troops made a "significant advance" into the tiny coastal territory which is home to 1.7 million people.

So far, 1,306 people have been killed and more than 7,200 wounded since the start of the Israeli offensive, which began with an intensive air campaign on July 8 and expanded when Israel sent ground troops into the Gaza periphery on July 17.

Figures released at 1200 GMT Tuesday by the U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA give a figure of 1,118 dead, including at least 827 civilians, among them 243 children.

Of the 6,233 injured, 1,949 were children, it said.

OCHA also said up to 240,000 Palestinians had been internally displaced by the fighting, with the U.N. agency for refugees saying more than 200,000 of them had taken refuge in 85 of its shelters. The rest were staying with relatives or friends.

On the Israeli side, the conflict has also cost the lives of 53 soldiers, all of whom were killed since the ground operation began, as well as two civilians and a Thai agricultural worker who were killed by rocket fire.

The army says that during its offensive it has attacked some 4,100 targets in Gaza, and militants have fired more than 2,670 rockets, of which 2,102 struck Israel and another 513 of which were shot down by its missile defense system, Iron Dome.

Since midnight (2100 GMT Tuesday), 23 rockets have struck Israel and three more were shot down, a military spokeswoman said.

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