Image of Israelis allegedly cheering on Gaza bombing sparks outrage
UN calls for ceasefire as death toll rises to 135 and Israel orders Gaza strip evacuation
Published 12/07/2014 | 17:46
A photo allegedly showing Israelis eating popcorn and cheering as they watch the bombing of Gaza has sparked outrage online.
The photo was posted online by a Danish journalist, Allan Sørensen, the Middle East Correspondent for a Danish newspaper.
Sørensen captioned the photo; 'Sderot cinema: Israelis bringing chairs 2 hilltop in sderot 2 watch latest from Gaza. Clapping when blasts are heard'.
The photo has been retweeted more than 9,000 times on social media network Twitter which journalist Sørensen has been updating frequently.
Sderot cinema. Israelis bringing chairs 2 hilltop in sderot 2 watch latest from Gaza. Clapping when blasts are heard. pic.twitter.com/WYZquV62O7— Allan Sørensen (@allansorensen72) July 9, 2014
Meanwhile, the Israeli military says it is ordering Palestinians living in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate the area "for their own safety".
In a statement, the military said it would send messages to residents overnight to leave the area.
Brigadier General Motti Almoz, the chief military spokesman, said Israel planned to hit the area with heavy force in the next 24 hours as it steps up an offensive against Gaza militants.
It comes as Israel widens its air assault against the Gaza Strip's rulers, hitting a mosque, Hamas-affiliated charities and an Islamic home for the disabled, as Palestinians said the death toll from the five-day offensive had risen to 135.
While Israel vowed to press forward with its five-day-old campaign, it found itself facing growing international calls to stop.
An official earlier said the goal of the operation is to restore quiet to Israel for a continuous period. "This goal will be achieved whether it is done militarily or diplomatically. Israel will consider any suggestion that will bring the accomplishment of this goal," the official said.
The military said it had struck more than 1,100 targets, including Hamas rocket launchers, command centres and weapon manufacturing and storage facilities, in a bid to stop relentless rocket fire coming from Gaza. Officials in the territory said two women were killed in the attack on the disability centre.
The central Gaza mosque was being used to conceal rockets like those militants have fired nearly 700 times towards Israel over the past five days, the military said. However, the strikes in the densely populated Gaza Strip show the challenge Israel faces as it considers a ground operation that could potentially pose further dangers to civilians.
Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said Israeli strikes had raised the death toll there to 135, with more than 920 wounded. Among the dead was a nephew of Ismail Haniyeh, a senior Hamas leader, who was killed in an air strike near his home, Hamas officials said.
Hamas militants have been hit hard but dozens of the dead have been civilians. Israel has also demolished dozens of homes it says are used by Hamas for military purposes.
Hamas said it hoped the mosque attack would galvanise support for it in the Muslim world.
"(It) shows how barbaric this enemy is and how much it is hostile to Islam," said Husam Badran, a Hamas spokesman in Doha, Qatar. "This terrorism gives us the right to broaden our response to deter this occupier."
Medical officials in the Gaza Strip later said 15 people were killed in an air strike on a target near a mosque.
Mr al-Kidra said the attack took place as people were ending evening prayers at the mosque.
It was not clear what the target was, in what was the deadliest single air strike during Israel's current offensive in Gaza.