• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
News Alert: One person confirmed dead in Eagle River house fire - Read More
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
5m 7s

Israeli troops uncover Gaza tunnels as death toll climbs

By CBS/AP 9:58 AM July 19, 2014

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Israeli troops uncovered more than a dozen cross-border tunnels and battled Gaza militants on the second day of an open-ended ground operation Saturday as the Palestinian death toll climbed to 325 and diplomats scrambled to revive cease-fire efforts.

The Israeli military said it had severely diminished the arsenal of Hamas, the Islamic militant group ruling Gaza, but the militants have continued to fire rockets and on Saturday staged another unsuccessful cross-border tunnel raid.

In the northern Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials reported intensified Israeli air strikes, shelling and numerous civilian casualties, including a mother and four children, as dozens of wounded were rushed to a local hospital in Beit Lahiya. Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Kidra said the new round of airstrikes raised the death toll from the 12-day offensive to 325 Palestinians, many of them civilians and about a fifth of them children.

CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reports that in Gaza’s Al-Susi Mosque, there was a defiant mood.

Mohammed Omar Susi, 92, has seen this conflict rage for decades – and told us if he were a young man, he’d fight the Israelis himself.

“We were weak the first time, but now we are stronger than the Jews,” he said.

In Israel, a Gaza rocket killed a 30-year-old man near the southern city of Dimona and injured four others, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, marking the second Israeli civilian casualty from the latest round of fighting. An Israeli soldier was killed after the start of the ground operation, likely from friendly fire.

The Israeli military said that during its first 24 hours on the ground in Gaza troops had discovered 13 tunnels into Israel – some as deep as 30 meters (yards) – that could be used to carry out attacks. The military said it thwarted a second infiltration attempt through such a tunnel, killing one militant and forcing the others to return to Gaza.

The military also said that in 12 days of fighting it has hit 2,350 targets in Gaza, including 1,100 rocket launchers.

Militants have fired more than 1,600 rockets since the latest round of fighting began on July 8. Rocket fire continued overnight, including one that landed in a residential neighborhood in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, causing no injuries.

“We have struck hard on the two main strategic assets of Hamas: the rockets and these tunnels,” said Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.

Israel says it has encountered little resistance on the ground so far, and has killed about 20 militants in sporadic gunbattles. Three soldiers were wounded in overnight fighting, one seriously, the military said.

In one case, it said troops encountered a man who appealed for medical assistance before pulling out grenades and trying to hurl them at soldiers. He was shot dead. Troops also encountered a donkey with explosives strapped to it.

Casualties could mount quickly if the military moves further into urban areas.

Some 50,000 Palestinians are already staying in United Nations shelters, according to UNRWA, the U.N. refugee agency for Palestinians.

Israel launched the ground operation late Thursday after hundreds of airstrikes on the Hamas-ruled territory failed to halt unrelenting rocket fire that has increasingly targeted major Israeli cities. Al-Kidra said 75 Palestinians have been killed since the ground offensive began.

An Egyptian truce proposal was rejected by Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007 and has demanded the lifting of an Israeli and Egyptian blockade as part of any cease-fire agreement.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri on Saturday repeated a call for the two sides to adopt its cease-fire initiative, saying it is the only offer on the table, despite efforts from Hamas backers Turkey and Qatar to broker a deal.

“This initiative still presents the chance for the two sides to cease fire, ending the bloodshed,” he said. “It meets the needs of both sides. We will continue to propose it. We hope both sides accept it.”

In a fresh effort to broker a truce, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was to leave Saturday for the Middle East to help mediate the Gaza conflict. A cease-fire is “indispensable” for urgently needed humanitarian efforts to succeed, the under-secretary-general for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman told an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Friday.

Israeli officials have said the offensive could last up to two weeks. The military reported making steady progress but said dozens of tunnels remain and would not give a time frame for its operation.

Israel’s military chief, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, visited troops on the Gaza border early Saturday and said “a strategic national patience is necessary” to complete the mission.

“Hamas and other terror organizations have been hit hard, painfully and extensively,” he added.

But Gaza militants have remained defiant despite the heavy death toll. The Israeli military said it foiled another infiltration attempt Saturday, as militants trying to get into Israel through a tunnel opened fire on Israeli troops with machine guns and anti-tank fire. Israeli troops fired back, killing one and forcing the others to flee back to Gaza, the military said.

“The Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip will not surrender to the enemy and will not raise the white flag,” Ziad Nakhala, a leader in the Islamic Jihad militant group, told a Palestinian radio station. “We are open to all possibilities as long as the enemy does not respond to the demands of the resistance.”

Hamas has survived Israeli offensives in the past, including a major three-week ground operation in January 2009 and another weeklong air offensive in 2012. It now controls an arsenal of thousands of rockets, including long-range projectiles, and has built a system of underground bunkers.

But Hamas is weaker than it was during the previous two offensives, with little international or even regional support from its main allies, Turkey and Qatar. Protests against the offensive took place Friday in Turkey, Jordan and the West Bank.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Latest Stories

  • Politics

    ‘Idea Line’ lets Alaskans weigh in on government spending

    by Liz Raines on Feb 05, 22:24

      JUNEAU — Alaska lawmakers say they’re turning to the public for ideas on how to solve the state’s nearly $4 billion budget deficit. At a press conference Friday, members of the house majority presented the “idea line” – a 24-hour hotline where Alaskans can leave messages for lawmakers. The number to call is: 1-844-414-5949 […]

  • Sports

    CBS crews ready for the most advanced Super Bowl broadcast yet

    by Dave Goldman on Feb 05, 21:17

      SANTA CLARA, Calif. – To get some perspective on how far the Super Bowl has come, all you have to do is look back to the first game. Eleven cameras and two trucks were used at the first broadcast. That was the extent of CBS’ needs to show the Green Bay Packers defeat the Kansas […]

  • News

    Can I recycle that? Demystifying the rules for recycling in Anchorage

    by Lauren Maxwell on Feb 05, 20:41

      Anchorage recycling programs aren’t making a profit these days. That’s because the prices paid for recyclable materials have reached their lowest numbers in a decade. “There’s been a drop of about 46 percent in the price of metals,” explains Mary Fisher, Director of Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling (ALPAR). ”For the price of paper […]

  • News

    UPDATE: One person confirmed dead in Eagle River house fire

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 05, 19:54

    Last Updated: Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 at 10:02 p.m. One person is dead following a house fire in Eagle River Friday evening, authorities confirm. The Anchorage Fire Department received the call at 6:47 p.m., according to AFD spokesperson John See. The caller stated that they thought a person was trapped inside the house. Crews responding […]

  • News

    Anchorage 911 dispatcher helps man save his wife’s life with CPR

    by Heather Hintze on Feb 05, 18:34

      ANCHORAGE — “She’s not breathing,” Keith Herte explained frantically over the telephone to 911 dispatcher Frances Robinson. “She’s not breathing, okay,” Robinson replied. It’s a call she remembers well: May 4, 2014 — A call from a man whose wife had gone into cardiac arrest at their home in Eagle River. For Robinson, it was the […]

  • Lifestyle

    Health official: Alaskans at low risk for Zika virus

    by Associated Press on Feb 05, 18:22

    An official with the state Division of Public Health says Alaskans are not likely to contract the Zika virus unless they have contact with people who have been traveling in affected areas. Infectious disease program manager Michael Cooper says Alaskans could theoretically be infected through sexual transmission or blood transfusions, but not by the mosquitoes […]

  • News

    New details emerge about Anchorage man facing child porn charges

    by Shannon Ballard on Feb 05, 17:21

    ANCHORAGE — We are learning new details about the Anchorage Police Department’s investigation that lead to the arrest of Christopher Olson, the 31-year-old Anchorage man charged with 27 counts relating to child porn and sexual abuse of a minor. We now know Olson was his victim’s babysitter, according to court documents. Authorities discovered 14 videos on his […]

  • DayBreak

    Mic Check in the Morning: SHEL

    by Daybreak Staff on Feb 05, 15:06

    Sarah, Hannah, Eva and Liza Holbrook make up the band SHEL. At a young age, the group decided on the name by making each letter stand for one of their names. The four sisters hail from Fort Collins, Colorado and for the past few years they toured the U.S. promoting their debut album. The sisters say working together […]