Israel and militants trade fire as Gaza toll rises 

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Palestinian deaths are continuing to mount as Israel and militants in Gaza traded fresh rounds of rocket and missile-fire on Saturday.

At least 127 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began its operation five days ago, Palestinian sources say.

The UN says three-quarters of those are civilian deaths.

Israel says it was hit by 34 rockets, also on Saturday, causing damage. It has vowed to press on with its offensive until rocket attacks stop.

Israel says it is targeting militants and militant facilities, including the homes of senior operatives. It says “dozens of terrorists” are among those killed.

In the latest violence

  • An Israeli air strike killed six unidentified men in the Sheikh Radwan district of Gaza City on Saturday, Palestinian medics said
  • A large fire broke out in a UN humanitarian relief compound in the east of Gaza City. Israel said it was caused by Hamas rockets falling short, though this has not been confirmed
  • Israel hit a residential home for disabled people in Beit Lahiya overnight, Palestinian officials said. Two female residents were killed and four other people seriously injured, they said. Israel did not comment
  • Two people were killed in the north of Gaza City, and three other people, including an Islamic Jihad activist, died when a house in Jabaliya refugee camp was hit, according to the Palestinian health ministry
  • At least one mosque in the central Gaza Strip was bombed overnight, according to Hamas, which said it was the first attack of its kind since Israel began its offensive. Israel‘s military said the building had been used to store weapons
  • Israeli forces said they had destroyed two missiles launched by militants in flight on Saturday. Hamas said it had fired four rockets at the Israeli city of Ashdod

There is no sign of both sides agreeing on a ceasefire, despite intense diplomacy at the United Nations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that his country will resist foreign pressure to halt its operations.

“The objective is to restore quiet to the cities of Israel, and I intend to achieve this objective,” he said.

Thousands of Israeli troops have massed along the border with Gaza amid warnings by Israel that it is prepared to launch a ground offensive.

 James Reynolds reports from a petrol station gutted by a rocket attack in the Israeli city of Ashdod
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Analysis: BBC Middle East correspondent Kevin Connolly

To the outside World the Gaza rockets may seem ineffective – partly because many are homemade and partly because they’re hopelessly overmatched by Israel‘s Iron Dome anti-missile defence system.

But Israeli civilians judge the rockets by the intent behind them and not by their military effectiveness. They are grimly familiar with the ritual of running for shelter with their children when they hear a 15-second warning. They expect their government to put a stop to it.

The problem is that there’s no easy way of doing that.

Even if you believe in the myth of the accuracy of modern weapons systems, you have to accept that air raids are going to kill innocent people.

What can Israel and Hamas gain from latest conflict?

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The Palestinian health ministry says in addition to those killed, at least 940 people – mainly civilians – have been injured in Israel‘s Operation Protective Edge since it began on Tuesday.

The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs said earlier that 77% of the people killed in Gaza had been civilians.

Israel said on Saturday morning it had hit over 60 “terror targets” overnight and had carried out 1,160 strikes since the start of its offensive. It said Hamas had fired 689 rockets in the first four days.

The rockets have caused damage and some injuries in Israel.

A man reacts as a fire burns in Gaza City after a reported Israeli tank attack on Saturday
 Palestinian militants have meanwhile continued to launch rockets at Israeli cities
Palestinians flee their homes as Israel launches fresh air strikes on Gaza on Saturday
 Israeli troops have been massing near Gaza, amid speculation that a ground invasion may be imminent
 A rocket struck a gas station in southern Israel on Friday, setting vehicles alight
Map
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Israel‘s Iron Dome missile shield

Iron dome graphic
  1. Enemy fires missile or artillery shell
  2. Projectile tracked by radar, data relayed to battle-management-and-control unit
  3. Data analysed and target co-ordinates sent to the missile firing unit
  4. Missile is fired at enemy projectile

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