Eight children among 10 killed in Gaza park blast
Published 28/07/2014 | 17:18
A strike on a Gaza park has killed 10 people, including nine children, as the death toll from the fighting rose on both sides.
The Israeli military said nine soldiers died in separate attacks - four were killed in a mortar attack and another five were killed in combat in Gaza.
The announcement brings the toll of soldiers killed to 52. Three civilians have also been killed on the Israeli side. Palestinian health officials say more than 1,000 Palestinians have been killed since the war began the three weeks ago.
Israeli and Palestinian authorities are blaming each other for the park attack.
The attack happened as children played on a swing in the Shati refugee camp on the edge of Gaza City, said Ayman Sahabani, head of the emergency room at nearby Shifa Hospital. Sahabani said nine of the 10 killed at the park were children under the age of 12 and 46 were injured.
The strike on the park happened a few minutes after the hospital's outpatient clinic was hit, leaving several people injured.
Gaza's police operations room, Civil Defence and Sahabani blamed the attacks on Israeli airstrikes.
Lt Col Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesman, denied Israel was involved. "This incident was carried out by Gaza terrorists whose rockets fell short and hit the Shifa Hospital and the Beach (Shati) camp," he said.
Gaza's Interior Ministry spokesman Eyad al-Bozum said he believes that shrapnel found in dead bodies and in the wounded is evidence of Israel's role in the incident.
"The occupation claims that Palestinian rockets hit the hospital and the park," he said. "This is an attempt to cover their ugly crime against children and civilians, and because of their fear of scandal and international legal prosecution."
In a text message, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the strike on the park a "massacre". The Hamas military wing said that in response to the strike, it fired three rockets toward the Israeli port city of Ashdod.
Israel's military also ordered residents of parts of northern Gaza to evacuate towards central Gaza City, a sign that Israel may be broadening its assault. The areas warned included Shijaiyah, which saw one of the bloodiest days of fighting last week.
Earlier, Israeli jets struck several sites in Gaza and rockets continued to fall on Israel, the Israeli military said, disrupting a relative lull.
Israel says it launched its war on Hamas on July 8 to halt incessant rocket fire from Gaza. It later broadened the assault into a ground offensive, which is meant to tackle Hamas' network of tunnels which Israel sees as a major threat.