Israel’s offensive against Islamic militants in the Gaza Strip continued Friday as the Palestinian death toll eclipsed 100 people.
The Associated Press reports that more than 100 Palestinians have been killed during Israel’s ongoing Operation Protective Edge against Hamas insurgents in the Gaza region. At least 70 civilians are among the casualties, according to Al Jazeera. And at least 14 of those killed have been children, according to Time.
“We have received disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes,” United Nations spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said Friday, according to Al Jazeera. “Such reports raise doubts about whether the Israeli airstrikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”
The AP reports that almost 700 Palestinians have been wounded since the offensive launched on Tuesday.
More than 1,100 Palestinian targets have been hit by Israeli missiles this week. Israeli gunboats also attacked ships docked in a Gaza harbor.
Hamas militants have in turn launched more than 550 rockets into Israel since Tuesday, according to the AP. The Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system has been able to intercept at least 110 of these projectiles.
No Israelis have reportedly been killed during the four days of missile volleys, according to Fox News. A Gaza rocket that struck a gas station Friday injured three people, putting one in serious condition.
A suspected Lebanese rocket was launched into Israel on Friday, according to Al Jazeera. This incident marks the first recorded projectile fired at Israel this week that may have been launched from outside the Gaza region, according to Al Jazeera. The Israeli military reportedly responded with a volley of artillery shells into a portion of southern Lebanon.
Al Jazeera reports that no group has yet taken responsibility for the attack, but the Lebanese military and U.N. representatives were searching the area Friday. Israeli Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said it is unknown if the attack was “symbolic or something more substantial.”
U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Thursday, according to Politico and the BBC. Obama reportedly condemned rocket fire from Hamas militants and backed Israel’s right to defend itself.
But Obama offered help in negotiating a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, expressing “concern about the risk of further escalation,” according to a White House statement.
“The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 cease-fire agreement,” according to the statement.
Egypt was the linchpin to Israel-Hamas cease-fire negotiations in 2012. Egyptian representatives have been in touch with Hamas leaders and Israeli officials about the possibility of de-escalation.
But Israel’s Netanyahu said Thursday that cease-fire considerations were “not even on the agenda” for the Israeli military, according to The Washington Post.
“So far the battle is progressing as planned, but we can expect further stages in future,” Netanyahu said in a televised statement Thursday, according to The Guardian. “Up to now, we have hit Hamas and the terror organizations hard, and as the battle continues, we will increase strikes at them.”
About 20,000 reserve troops have been called up for a potential ground invasion. While Netanyahu said Wednesday that “the army is ready for all possibilities,” according to Fox News, Lt. Col. Lerner said the Israeli military will not be rash with an invasion decision.
“The ground option needs to be the last option and only if it is absolutely necessary,” Lerner said, according to CBS News.