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Israeli air strikes and shelling killed more than 25 people across Gaza on Saturday, among them children, raising the toll in 12 days of violence to 333, medics said.
The latest deaths included five members of the Zuweidi family, including two girls aged two and six, in northern Gaza’s Beit Hanoun, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.
UN says minors make up one-fifth of the 299 Palestinians killed in 11 days of intense Israeli bombardment of the densely populated Gaza Strip, where half the 1.7 million people are under age 18.
Seventy-one of those killed since fighting began on July 8 were under 18, according to an Associated Press count based on information provided by al-Qudra. Forty-eight of the victims were under the age of 13.
Early Friday, a 5-month-old baby boy was hit by shrapnel from a missile strike near his family compound in the southern town of Rafah. A day earlier, two brothers and a cousin were killed by shrapnel while feeding pigeons on the roof of their home.
One deadly incident drew particular outrage. Four cousins, aged 9 to 11, had been playing on the beach near Gaza City’s harbor on Wednesday when a missile fired from an Israeli gunboat hit a nearby shack. The boys fled, but were killed in a second missile strike.
Four men were also killed in two separate air strikes in Beit Lahiya in the north, he added, along with one person killed in the Qarara district of southern Khan Younis.
According to Reuters, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is planned to travel to the Israel and the Palestinian territories Saturday.
The United Nations said that more than 50,000 Palestinians have taken refuge from the Israeli attacks in its Gaza shelters.
Hamas, Gaza’s dominant Islamist group, refuses to hold fire unless embargoes by Israel and neighboring Egypt are eased and other demands are met. The Israelis say they are ready to step up their Gaza assault, though they do not aim to topple Hamas.
‘Hamas ready for all possibilities’
The head of Hamas’s political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, confirmed that the Palestinian resistance in the Gaza is ready for all possibilities, stressing at the same time the need to deter Israel’s aggression and lift the siege of Gaza, Assabeel newspaper reported.
Speaking on the telephone on Thursday with Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, Meshaal also reportedly expressed the hope that the Muslim world would unite in support of the Palestinian cause.
Meshaal said that his movement has not forgotten the Islamic Republic’s support for Palestine, and he expressed his hope that Iran would continue its support and advocacy for the Palestinian people and their just cause.
For his part, the head of the Iranian Majlis (parliament) said that Tehran is extremely sad to see the Palestinian bloodshed, but that the Israeli occupation had miscalculated the consequences when deciding to carry out this aggression on the Gaza Strip.
Larijani pointed out that Iran is proud of the Palestinian resistance and the Palestinian people’s sacrifice, and is confident that the resistance will prevail.
Anti-Israel demos staged across world
Protest rallies against persisting Israeli atrocities in the besieged and densely-populated Palestinian enclave of Gaza have been held across the world’s major cities this week.
Thousands took part in major anti-Israel protest marches and rallies in France, Germany, Argentina, Britain, the U.S., and other nations throughout the week, RT reported Friday.
The demonstrations took place before the Israeli regime declared that it had begun an extensive ground offensive against the blockaded Palestinian territory – the first time it has done so since 2009.
The British capital of London saw one of the largest turnouts with thousands of protesters rallying outside the Israeli Embassy on Friday.
A similar protest rally also took place in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.
In the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires, the Federation of Palestine Entities, the Committee of Solidarity with Palestine and other human rights groups gathered at the Israeli embassy to voice their anger against the climbing death toll of Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli regime.
The protesters chanted slogans, waved the Palestinian flag – even spray-painted the Swastika on the embassy’s fence outside. It was a controlled atmosphere as police kept watch.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. capital of Washington, a larger number of protesters gathered to re-enact the death and destruction brought to Gaza by the Israeli onslaught, putting on a performance pretending to be dead as they lay on the pavement outside the White House.
Protesters in Washington lay on the street symbolizing Palestinians killed by Israeli bombing of Gaza
France bans pro-Palestine demonstrations
France’s socialist government provoked outrage Friday by becoming the first in the world to ban protests against Israeli action in Palestine.
In what is viewed as an outrageous attack on democracy, Socialist Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said mass demonstrations planned for the weekend should be halted.
Cazeneuve said there was a “threat to public order”, while opponents said he was “criminalizing” popular support of the Palestinian people.
Thousands were set to march against the ongoing slaughter in Gaza, calling for an immediate end to hostilities in which civilians, including many children, have been killed, but Cazeneuve fears there might be a repeat of the fights between ultra-Jewish vigilantes and pro-Palestinians which happened after a demonstration last Sunday.
Israel’s Gaza onslaught triggers Al-Aqsa clashes
Meanwhile, clashes erupted between Palestinian Muslim worshippers and Israeli forces inside East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound after Israeli soldiers stormed the compound early Friday afternoon.
“Around 100 Israeli police officers stormed the Al-Aqsa’s courtyards and assaulted worshippers,” one eyewitness told Anadolu Agency.
According to witnesses, Israeli security forces fired rubber bullets to disperse worshippers who were demonstrating against Israel’s devastating military offensive against the blockaded Gaza Strip.
During the melee, Al-Aqsa Mosque director Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani was struck in the leg by a rubber bullet, the witness said.
The violence broke out as Israel stepped up restrictions on Palestinian movement in the West Bank and
CNN removes reporter after ‘scum’ tweet
CNN removed correspondent Diana Magnay from covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after she tweeted that Israelis who were cheering the bombing of Gaza, and who had allegedly threatened her, were “scum.”
“After being threatened and harassed before and during a liveshot, Diana reacted angrily on Twitter,” a CNN spokeswoman said in a statement to The Huffington Post.
“She deeply regrets the language used, which was aimed directly at those who had been targeting our crew,” the spokeswoman continued. “She certainly meant no offense to anyone beyond that group, and she and CNN apologize for any offense that may have been taken.”