Intense shelling resumed in Gaza on Tuesday after a lull with Israel warning of a protracted military campaign against Hamas despite mounting international calls for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to end the 21-day conflict.
Israeli tank fire killed a four-year-old boy in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the first death since the two sides began observing an unofficial lull in fighting.
Israeli jets pounded several sites in Gaza after a rocket was launched at Israel. However, an Israeli army spokesman said there were no air strikes on Gaza since Monday night but that one rocket was fired from Gaza last night and another this morning, with the army responding to it.
“This ceasefire or abatement is dynamic on the ground. If we need to, we will respond,” Israel’s Chief Military Spokesman Brigadier General Motti Almoz said.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked both the parties to immediately halt violence in Gaza, saying the Palestinian territory is in a “critical condition”.
“In the name of humanity, the violence must stop,” he told reporters.
Shortly after he spoke, there were reports of two explosions in Gaza City – one in a children’s playground and one near Gaza’s main hospital.
Ten people, including eight children, killed when the Israeli missile hit the playground, a Palestinian official said.
Israel’s army said nine of its soldiers were killed on Tuesday in Gaza, bringing the total military death toll to 52.
Two Israeli civilians and a Thai national have also been killed in the conflict.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a “prolonged” Israeli campaign in Gaza.
“We will continue to act aggressively and responsibly until the mission is completed to protect our citizens, soldiers and children,” Netanyahu said.
Calling Monday a “painful day”, Netanyahu said Israel would not finish its operation until it had “neutralised” Hamas tunnels out of Gaza.
The UN Security Council late last night called for an “immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire” between Israel and Palestine, asking the parties to implement the truce beyond the Muslim holiday of Eid and allow delivery of urgently needed assistance in Gaza.