Israel calls up another 16,000 reservists amid heavy attacks

Israel calls up another 16,000 reservists amid heavy attacks

PanARMENIAN.Net - Israel said Thursday, July 31, it has called up another 16,000 reservists, allowing it to potentially widen its Gaza offensive against the territory's Hamas rulers in a war that has killed more than 1,300 Palestinians and more than 50 Israelis, the Associated Press reports.

The new call-up follows another day of intensive fighting, in which tank shells struck a UN school where Palestinians were sheltering and air strikes tore through a crowded Gaza shopping area. At least 116 Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers were killed Wednesday alone.

Israeli attacks in the strip continued Thursday, with witnesses saying that munitions struck the Omar Ibn al-Khatab mosque next to a UN school in the northern town of Beit Lahiya.

Israel has now called up a total of 86,000 reserves during the Gaza conflict, which it launched to try to end the rocket fire from Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza.

The strike in Beit Lahiya early Thursday damaged water tanks on the roof of a building near the mosque, sending shrapnel flying into the adjacent school compound."The shrapnel from the strike on the mosque hit people who were in the street and at the entrance of the school," Sami Salebi, an area resident said, according to the AP.

Gaza health official Ashraf al-Kidra said at least 15 people were wounded, with three of them in critical condition.

On Wednesday Israeli tank shells struck a UN school in the Jebaliya refugee camp where some 3,300 Gazans had crammed in to seek refuge from the fighting, killing at least 17 people and drawing sharp condemnation from the United Nations.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the deadly school shelling "outrageous" and "unjustifiable," and demanded an immediate humanitarian cease-fire. "Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children," the UN chief said.

Hours later, an Israeli airstrike hit a crowded shopping area in the Shijaiyah district in Gaza City, killing at least 16 people, including local Palestinian photographer Rami Rayan, who was wearing a press vest at the time, and wounding more than 200 people, al-Kidra said.

Thursday marked a third day of particularly heavy Israeli air and artillery attacks, at a time when Egyptian cease-fire efforts appeared to have stalled. Israeli media said late Wednesday that Israel's Security Cabinet decided to press forward with the operation.

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