Israeli tank shells struck a hospital in the Gaza Strip on Monday, killing four people and wounding 60, Palestinian officials said, as Israel’s Defence Minister vowed to press on with the war against Hamas “as long as necessary.”
Meanwhile, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry headed to Cairo to try to renew ceasefire efforts aimed at ending the Israel-Hamas fighting that has killed at least 530 Palestinians and 20 Israelis and displaced tens of thousands of residents of Gaza in the past two weeks.
Despite the new diplomatic push, Israel continued to attack targets in the densely populated coastal strip from the air and from tanks, while Hamas fired more rockets and tried to infiltrate into Israel.
A dozen shells hit the Al Aqsa hospital in the town of Deir el-Balah on Monday, Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra said. He said four people were killed and 60 wounded when the shells landed in the administration building, the intensive care unit and the surgery department.
Live footage on Hamas’ Al Aqsa TV station showed wounded being moved on gurneys into the emergency department.
A doctor at the hospital, Fayez Zidane, told the station that shells hit the third and fourth floor as well as the reception area.
The Israeli military said it was looking into the report.
In one of several airstrikes, 25 people were buried under the rubble of a home in the southern town of Khan Younis, including 24 from the same family. Rescue workers pulled the bodies from the wreckage on Monday.
“Twenty-five people!” said family member Sabri Abu Jamea. “Doesn’t this indicate that Israel is ruthless? Are we the liars? The evidence is here in the morgue refrigerators. The evidence is in the refrigerators.”
Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said the Gaza military operation would have no time limit.
“If needed we will recruit more reservists in order to continue the operation as long as necessary until the completion of the task and the return of the quiet in the whole of Israel especially from the threat of the Gaza Strip,” Mr. Yaalon told a parliamentary committee.
Israel accepted an Egyptian call for an unconditional ceasefire last week, but resumed its offensive after Hamas rejected the proposal.
“The resistance [Hamas] will not respond to any pressure,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a text message, in a reference to the renewed ceasefire efforts.
Mr. Kerry left Washington early Monday for Cairo, where he will join diplomatic efforts to resume a truce that had been agreed to in November 2012.
Israel invaded Gaza late last week, preceded by a 10-day air campaign. Air and artillery strikes have targeted Gaza’s border areas in an attempt to destroy tunnels and rocket launchers.
Sunday marked the single deadliest day in Gaza since the conflict erupted on July 8, with more than 100 Palestinians killed, according to Palestinian health officials.