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Israel intensifies Gaza attacks

Gaza/Jerusalem, Jul 29 (PTI): Fighting between Israel and Hamas intensified in Gaza on Tuesday after a brief lull as both sides ignored international calls for restraint and the Jewish state warned of a “prolonged” war that has killed 1,088 Palestinians and 56 Israelis in more than three weeks.

Israel stepped up its bombardment of the Gaza Strip warning people in three densely populated areas to vacate their homes in response to rocket attacks from the Palestinian side.

Gaza's only power plant was damaged as Israel carried out 60 air strikes, also targeting sites associated with Hamas, the group that controls Gaza.

“A shell had hit a fuel container after another shell had hit a steam engine in the plant setting fire,” Nadal Toman, an engineer with the distribution company in Gaza, told PTI.

“It was very difficult to control the fire”, Toman, who studied at Aligarh Muslim University, said.

Israeli warplanes also hit the house of Hamas' top leader in Gaza Ismail Haniya, his son said.

”The Israeli enemy struck our house twice,” Abed Salam Haniya said in a statement.

Ten Israeli soldiers were killed on Monday, five of them in an attempted infiltration into Israel via a cross-border tunnel from Gaza, raising the military casualty on the Israeli side to 53 since the start of Operation Protective Edge July 8.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed it as “a difficult and painful day”.

Calling life under the threat of death “inconceivable” for Israel, Netanyahu said the military would not end its incursion into Gaza until it has destroyed tunnels Hamas is using to attack civilians outside Gaza in an appeal to the citizens to prepare for a “prolonged” war.

In the ensuing fight, at least 26 Palestinians were killed and 241 injured across the Gaza Strip on Monday night as Israel resumed its bombardment of the coastal region from air, land, and sea.

On Monday, the region saw one of the bloodiest Eid in its memory.

A spokesman for Gaza's Ministry of Health told PTI that that a total of 1,088 Palestinians have been killed and 6,470 injured in the 22-day conflict.

”Of the dead, 251 were children and 50 elderly. 1,980 children and 259 elderly are also among the injured”, he added.

The latest escalation came amid intense international pressures for a ceasefire and failed multiple attempts to push both sides for a lull of at least for the three-day Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Fitr.