GAZA CITY, Gaza — At least 71 people were killed in Israel’s attacks on Gaza on the night of July 22, including two employees from the United Nations.
Spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Chris Gunness, has declined to provide any further details on the deaths at this time.
If the reports are confirmed, this attack will make six U.N. officials dead since the beginning of Israel’s incursion of Gaza three weeks ago. Since the beginning of the operation, approximately 1,156 Palestinians, 53 Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians have been killed as well.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has stated that Israel may be guilty of war crimes after bombing hospitals and houses resulting in high numbers of civilian deaths.
“Every one of these incidents must be properly and independently investigated,” Pillay said. “These are just a few examples where there seems to be a strong possibility that international humanitarian law has been violated in a manner that could amount to war crimes.”
Early this morning, Gaza’s only power plant came under attack, worsening an already severe humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Just hours prior, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of “prolonged” attacks against Gaza in a speech televised nationwide.
According to one Palestinian health official, at least 70 strikes were carried out overnight resulting in nearly 100 Palestinian deaths. This was one of the most severe bombardments thus far in Israel’s three-week attack.
The power plant was the only provider of electricity to the 1.8 million citizens in the Gaza Strip. The availability of electricity and power was limited even before Israel’s latest strikes. The Gaza Electricity Station Company said the damage would take months to repair. Israel’s military has not yet released any statements regarding the attacks.
The United Nations has recently stated that there is “no safe place” for Gaza’s civilians, as well as those working in the area to bring aid or cover the events.
United States Secretary of State John Kerry has recently called for a Gaza cease-fire for which he has come under much criticism from Israeli officials who believe that Kerry is hurting U.S.-Israeli diplomatic relations. Obama administration officials assert that Kerry is doing everything in his power to restore peace to the area without harming U.S. ties with Israel.
An Israeli official told CNN that Israel is “prepared for a cease-fire.” Palestinians have urged Hamas to accept, however, no agreement has yet been reached.
“When we get guarantees from the Zionists for an international mediation regarding a humanitarian pause, then we can consider [the cease-fire],” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.
For now, the United Nations warns those working to report on events or bring aid to Gazan children and families. Gaza City and all surrounding areas are unsafe for anyone currently working or living there.
– Paige Frazier