Middle East

Gaza conflict: Five dead at hospital hit by Israeli strike

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Media captionLyse Doucet in Gaza: ''Two patients were killed in their beds''

At least five people have been killed and 70 injured by an Israeli strike on a hospital in Gaza, Palestinians say.

The Israeli military said it had targeted a cache of anti-tank missiles in the hospital's "immediate vicinity".

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry said the US was sending $47m (£28m) in humanitarian aid to Gaza.

On Monday evening Israel said seven of its soldiers had been killed in the past 24 hours, bringing the number of Israeli military dead to 25.

Two Israeli civilians have also died in the recent violence.

The Palestinian death toll from the two-week conflict has now passed 560, the majority of them civilians, according to Gaza's health ministry. The UN says more than 100,000 Gazans have now been displaced.

Monday's attacks across Gaza killed at least 56 people including 16 children, Gazan health officials said.

Israel says it has killed more than 170 militants since Thursday night, when it launched the ground offensive phase of its two-week old operation to end rocket fire from Gaza.

Ten militants were killed on Monday after using tunnels to get into Israel near the town of Sderot.

Push for ceasefire

Palestinian television showed footage of wounded people being treated after the strike at the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.

Doctors say several Israeli tank shells hit the hospital's reception, intensive care unit and operating theatres.

Most of the wounded were doctors, according to Palestinian officials.

Appeals have been made to the Red Cross to help evacuate patients from the building, the BBC's Yolande Knell reports from Gaza.

Israel had told residents of neighbouring areas to head to Deir al-Balah for their own safety as its ground offensive continues to target neighbourhoods to the east of Gaza City for a second day, our correspondent adds.

The Israeli army said it had "successfully targeted" a cache of anti-tank missiles in the area.

"Civilian casualties are a tragic inevitability of [Hamas'] brutal and systematic exploitation of homes, hospitals and mosques in Gaza," it said in a statement.

Israel says that approximately 131 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel on Monday, of which at least 108 hit Israel and 17 were intercepted. No casualties were reported from these attacks.

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Media captionJohn Simpson on continuing clashes as Israel holds funerals for the dead
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Media captionPaul Adams reports from the almost deserted streets of Shaaf in Gaza

In Egypt, US Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to try to arrange a ceasefire.

Mr Kerry said the US is concerned about the safety of Palestinian civilians, but lent his support to Israel's offensive, saying: "No country can stand by while rockets are attacking it."

He said the US would send $47m (£28m) in aid to Gaza "to try to alleviate some of the immediate humanitarian crisis" while continuing efforts to reach a ceasefire deal with both sides.

The UN Security Council has issued a call for an "immediate cessation of hostilities", but did not endorse a strongly worded draft resolution backed by Arab states.

However, senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that any ceasefire which did not address the question of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the territory would not be accepted.

"This siege, this unjust siege, must be lifted," he said.

Analysis from the BBC's Lyse Doucet in Gaza

The UN says 43% of Gaza is now "affected by evacuation warnings" or declared a "no-go area". In the past four days, the numbers seeking shelter in UN-run schools shot up by 400%.

The UN is running out of supplies, morgues run out of space, and hospital wards are packed.

As the days go by, there's a sad familiar choreography to Gaza's recurrent wars. As the news gets grimmer, the demands mount for an urgent ceasefire.

And as the chorus of concern grows, both sides know their time may be running out, so military operations escalate, and the human cost deepens.

Shejaiya assault defines grimmest day

The BBC's Chris Morris reports from Ashkelon, Israel

More sirens were heard today in Tel Aviv, as rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza target Israeli towns and cities.

Compared to the state-of-the-art weapons Israel is using to bombard Gaza, this is a relatively unsophisticated assault. But the rockets spread fear, and pose a real threat to the security of Israeli citizens.

Israel does have its Iron Dome missile defence system. I watched today as one missile battery shot down several incoming rockets fired by Hamas.

But the Palestinian militant group has also begun attacking Israel on the ground. For the second time in a few days, militants used a tunnel dug under the border to infiltrate Israeli territory.

Diplomatic efforts to end the fighting are intensifying, but there is a mood in Israel of grim determination.

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Media captionJohn Kerry, who was apparently unaware he was being recorded, said: "It's a hell of a pinpoint operation" - speaking on US TV network Fox News

Palestinian emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said nine members of one family were killed in overnight Israeli attacks on Rafah, on the border with Egypt.

In Khan Younis, in the south of Gaza, at least 23 members of one family died when a building was hit by an Israeli air strike, officials said.

At least 11 people were reported killed in Gaza City in a strike on a high-rise tower.

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Media captionGaza "tunnels" - in 60 secs

Israel sent ground troops into Gaza after days of heavy air and naval barrages failed to stop rocket fire.

Israel says the ground operation is necessary to target Hamas' network of tunnels, which have been used by militants to get into Israel and carry out attacks.

But the UN, Palestinians and Arab states have expressed alarm at the number of civilian casualties.

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