World Bulletin/News Desk
The Arab League described Israeli attacks on Gaza that have killed at least 60 Palestinians on Sunday as a "war crime".
Nabil el-Araby, the head of the Cairo-based Arab League, considers Israeli shelling and ground attacks in Shejaia in northeast Gaza a "war crime" against Palestinian civilians which Israel is responsible for, according to statement issued on Sunday.
"El-Araby (...) considered Israel's terrible shelling and ground attack operations in the neighbourhood of Shejaia as a war crime against Palestinian civilians and a dangerous escalation," the Arab League said in a statement on Sunday.
Palestinian witnesses and officials said at least 62 Palestinians were killed in shelling of the Gaza neighbourhood that left bodies strewn in the streets and thousands fleeing for shelter.
Gaza's Health Ministry officials said at least 403 Palestinians, many of them civilians, have been killed and about 2,600 wounded in the 13-day offensive, that Israel says it launched to halt mounting cross-border rocket fire.
On Israel's side, two civilians have been killed by cross-border fire and five soldiers have died in fighting. More than 50 Israeli troops have been wounded, hospital officials said.
Thousands fled Shejaia, some by foot and others piling into the backs of trucks and sitting on the hoods of cars filled with families trying to get away. Several people rode out of the neighbourhood of 100,000 in the shovel of a bulldozer.
Video given to Reuters by a local showed at least a dozen corpses, including three children, lying in rubble-filled streets, though the footage could not be verified independently.
As the tank shells began to land, Shejaia residents called radio stations pleading for evacuation. An air strike on the Shejaia home of Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, killed his son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren, hospital officials said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel will take "whatever action is necessary" to halt Hamas cross-border rocket attacks from Gaza and restore calm but insisted his forces were doing their utmost to avoid civilian casualties there.
"We try to target military targets and unfortunately there are civilian casualties which we regret and we don't seek," Netanyahu told CNN shortly after an Israeli attack on a Gaza neighborhood killed at least 62 Palestinians.
He accused Hamas of deliberately targeting Israeli civilians and of using Gaza residents as "human shields." Asked how long it would take Israel to complete an operation it says is intended to destroy Hamas weapons tunnels, Netanyahu said it was being done "fairly quickly," but gave no time frame.
Meanwhile, the United States believes Israel has a right to defend itself from rockets fired from Gaza and from attacks launched from cross-border tunnels, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday.
"You have a right to go in and take out those tunnels," Kerry told Fox News. "We completely support that. And we support Israel's right to defend itself against rockets that are continuing to come in."
In a separate interview on CNN, Kerry said President Barack Obama will ask him to go to the Middle East soon to aid in efforts to secure a ceasefire.Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Temmuz 2014, 17:07