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At Least 60 Palestinians, 13 Israeli Troops, Killed on Bloody Sunday in Gaza

A Palestinian boy wounded by Israeli shelling in Shejaiya receives treatment at Al-Shifa Hospital. (Ali Jadallah/APA Images)

A Palestinian boy wounded by Israeli shelling in Shejaiya receives treatment at Al-Shifa Hospital. (Ali Jadallah/APA Images)

At least 60 Palestinians, most of them innocent civilians, and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed on Sunday as Israel continued its ground invasion of Gaza.

In the bloodiest day since Israel’s Operation Protective Edge was launched on July 8, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tanks, troops, artillery and aircraft ferociously attacked the Shejaiya neighborhood in Gaza City.

IDF officials claimed Israeli troops are targeting fighters from the militant Palestinian resistance group Hamas, which operates in civilian areas and has launched thousands of crude rockets indiscriminately against Israeli cities and towns and has dug a series of tunnels which it uses to transport fighters and weapons. But the Palestinian government is accusing Israel of committing a “heinous massacre” and “war crimes” requiring immediate international intervention.

The scene in Shejaiya is one of utter carnage and devastation. Entire apartment buildings and homes have been destroyed by IDF attacks, and streets were strewn with dead bodies, including many women and children. Local hospitals are overwhelmed with the dead, the wounded, the terrorized and the traumatized, who have flocked there seeking refuge from Israel’s assault.

Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Ashraf al-Qidra said 17 children were among the dead. More than 200 were wounded on Sunday alone, said al-Qidra. Naser Tattar, director of Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest, told Reuters that 17 children, 14 women and four elderly people were among the 62 dead and 400 wounded in the Israeli assault on Shejaiya.

Agence France-Presse reports a journalist and a paramedic were killed when Israeli forces attacked an ambulance attempting to evacuate wounded victims of the IDF assault.

The Gaza Health Ministry now says 405 Palestinians, the vast majority of them innocent civilians, have been killed during Operation Protective Edge. The leading Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported on Sunday that at least 76 children and 36 women have been killed by Israeli forces over the course of the 13-day war.

Israeli officials and their supporters claim Hamas and other Palestinian militant resistance fighters, who they consider terrorists, hide among civilians and use them as human shields. But it is unclear how Israel expects the 1.8 million Gazans, who live in one of the most densely-populated places on earth, to avoid its ferocious land, air and sea assault.

Terrorized and terrified Gaza residents attempted to flee the area, but found it extremely difficult to do so.

“The Israeli shells were hitting [our] house,” 34-year-old Sabreen Hattad, who was trying to escape with her three children, told the Guardian. “We stayed the night because we were so scared, but about six in the morning we decided to escape. But where are we supposed to go? The ambulances could not enter and so we ran under shell fire.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had negotiated a two-hour truce to allow the injured to be rescued and the dead to be gathered. That respite, which may have been violated by one or both sides, has come and gone, and the IDF assault has resumed.

Thirteen Israeli soldiers, reportedly including 2 American citizens, were killed in the fighting. The Jerusalem Post reports seven of the soldiers were killed when their armored personnel carrier ran over an explosive device, while the other six were killed in firefights and other combat operations.

“As we moved into Shejaiya we were met by anti-tank missiles, RPGs, heavy, extensive weapons fire at the forces from the houses, from the surrounding buildings,” IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told reporters.

Israeli officials said 86 rockets were fired against Israel on Sunday, and that 16 of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

In Washington, the Obama administration continued to publicly voice its support for Israel’s war.

“We support Israel’s right to defend itself against rockets that are continuing to come in,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told Fox News on Sunday.

But Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace questioned Kerry over a “hot mic” comment in which the audibly upset secretary of state mocked Israeli claims of surgical precision by scoffing, “it’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.”

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