The number of civilians affected by the armed conflict in Gaza and seeking refuge has nearly doubled, the United Nations said on Friday.
In a report by the BBC, more than 40,000 people are being sheltered in 34 UN centers in Gaza as Israel troops plunge deeper into the Palestinian territory. The attack is on its second day after Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared “significant expansion” of its offensive against the Hamas militants.
UN Political Affairs Chief, Jeffrey Feltman, said that UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon aims to mediate between Israelis and Palestinians to come up with a solution that will end the violence as the latter visits the war-torn region on Sunday.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Jeremy Feltman” author_title=”UN Political Affairs Chief”]
Israel has legitimate security concerns, and we condemn the indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. But we are alarmed by Israel’s heavy response.
Israel is poised to seek and destroy underground tunnels that Hamas militants use to infiltrate the former’s territory and attack Israeli civilians.
So far, 299 Palestinians have died, many of them children, after 11 days of intense bombing by Israeli forces.
The U.N. Security council held an emergency meeting to discuss the ongoing military operations and to explore long-term solutions in the decades-long armed conflict.
However, truce and ceasefire seemed out of the question as Hamas militants who control the Gaza territory vowed to retaliate against Israel forces. It also refused to accept Egyptian-facilitated truce and launched a 10-day airstrike targeting Israeli cities.
“The ground offensive does not scare us and we pledge to drown the occupation army in Gaza mud,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.