July 21, 2014
Israel and Gaza have both suffered their bloodiest day since the beginning of the current offensive. Israel says that 13 of its soldiers died since Saturday night, the biggest one-day loss for its army in years. At least 87 Gazans were reported killed on Sunday – 60 of them in the district of Shejaiya alone. The total death toll in Gaza now stands at more than 425. Hamas said on Sunday evening that it had captured an Israeli soldier, but Israel has issued a denial. “There’s no kidnapped Israeli soldier and those rumours are untrue,” said Israel’s UN ambassador Ron Prosor. Celebratory gunfire and shouts could be heard in Gaza City after the claim was made. Sunday’s death toll for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is higher than that sustained by the IDF during the entire three-week duration of Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, the last time that Israel sent ground troops into Gaza.
It brings the number of Israeli soldiers killed in the current offensive to 18. The deaths of so many soldiers on a single day will shock Israeli society, the BBC’s Chris Morris reports from southern Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue operations in Gaza “as much as we need to” despite the casualties. He said the Israeli government felt “deep pain” over deaths of its soldiers, and that Hamas, not Israel was responsible for the escalation in Gaza. The UN Security Council is due to meet on Sunday evening in emergency session to discuss the situation. US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to travel to the Egyptian capital Cairo on Monday to support regional efforts to reach a ceasefire.