Death toll mounts as Israel's Gaza offensive continues

The death toll in Gaza has passed 400 as Israel continues biggest offensive on the region in five years.

(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)

 

The death toll in Gaza has passed 400 as Israel continues biggest offensive on the region in five years.

More than 3,000 people have been injured since the fighting began - most of them civilians.

 

Brianna Roberts reports.

 

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

 

Doctors called it 'Bloody Sunday' in Gaza, with more than 80 Palestinians reportedly killed in one day.

 

At least 50 of those were from one district alone - in at Shejaiya, east of Gaza City.

A doctor at the Sahaba clinic in Gaza City, Basman Elashi has told Al Jazeera the situation in Gaza is shocking.

 

"They are shelling indiscriminately. Just shooting at everything that is moving. A child, a woman, an old man. Even an animal, they are shooting at it. This has to end. The world has to see it. The world has to hear what's going on. It's a massacre, in Gaza, done by the Israeli forces."

 

A Norwegian doctor working at the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza, Mads Gilbert, told Al Jazeera, people are growing increasingly desperate.

 

"The Israeli forces do not allow ambulances to access those people who are trapped in Shejaiya. That may be more than 100 or hundreds. We don't know the exact number of people injured in the area but the access of ambulances is a major problem. A father just came running in with his daughter, screaming 'we need ambulances, we need ambulances, we need ambulances..."

 

The Arab League has lashed out at Israel accusing it of "war crimes" in the Shejaiya district.

 

Israel says its ground operation is necessary to target a network of Hamas tunnels.

 

US Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN it's understandable that Israel is continuing its offensive.

 

"Israel is under siege by a terrorist organisation that has seen fit to dig tunnels and come through those tunnels with handcuffs and tranquiliser drugs, prepared to try to capture Israeli citizens and take them back and hold them hostage. No country could sit by and not take steps to deal with people who are sending thousands of rockets your way."

 

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has placed the blame for civilian casualties squarely on Hamas.

 

He told CNN Hamas had ignored repeated calls for a ceasefire.

 

"It's very difficult because Hamas is using the Palestinians as human shields. We use anti-missile systems to protect our civilians. They use their civilians to protect their missiles. That's the difference. So against such a cynical, brutal and heartless enemy we try to minimise civilian casualties. We try to target the military targets and unfortunately there are civilian casualties which we regret and we don't seek."

 

Meanwhile, civilians on both sides are growing weary as the continued fighting takes its toll.

 

This resident of Gaza says they did nothing to deserve being caught up in the violence.

 

Starts in Arabic, then: "We are residents sleeping at home, we are at home, civilians. We are not pro- Hamas or pro-Fatah even pro-Israel. We are poor people sleeping at home with children, women and old people".

 

 

 

 

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