Gaza/Jerusalem, July 19 (Reuters): Two Israeli soldiers were killed in a cross-border attack by Hamas militants today, the army said, as the Palestinian death toll from the conflict rose above 300 with no diplomatic solution in sight.
The Israeli military said four other soldiers were wounded in the raid by fighters who had used a concealed tunnel to reach Israel. One Hamas gunman was killed, while the rest of the group managed to escape back into the Gaza Strip, the military added.
Israel sent ground forces into Hamas-controlled Gaza on Thursday after 10 days of air and naval barrages failed to stop rocket fire from the Palestinian territory.
It has vowed to destroy the tunnel network and hunt down the militants’ stockpiles of missiles.
The land incursion has so far failed to subdue Hamas and its allies, who fired more than 90 rockets into Israel today, the Israeli army said. One killed a man and wounded two children in a southern Bedouin Arab village in Israel, police said.
Gaza officials said at least 335 Palestinians, including 70 children, have been killed in the 12-day conflict — about 100 in the last 48 hours alone. On Israel’s side, three soldiers and two civilians have died.
Diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire involving, amongst others, Egypt, Qatar, France and the UN, have failed to make headway. Hamas rejected an initial attempt by Cairo last week to end the fighting.
The sound of explosions rocked Gaza through the day, while sirens repeatedly sounded in towns and cities in southern and central Israel, warning of approaching missiles.
Eight members of a Palestinian family, including a six-month old baby and two children aged three and 13, died overnight when an Israeli shell hit their house in Beit Hanoun, in northeastern Gaza, officials said.
Israeli bulldozers and engineers worked along a mile-wide strip of Gaza’s eastern frontier, uncovering 13 tunnels, at least one of them 30 metres deep, military spokesman Lt-Col Peter Lerner said. About 95 rocket launchers were also found and destroyed in the sweep.