The number of dead Palestinians in the current Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip has reached 500 and continues to climb, say international humanitarian groups. The international community, including President Obama and Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), has called for an immediate cessation of hostilities.
The Jordanian UN ambassador called an emergency session of the UN Security Council (UNSC) late on Sunday night to address what is quickly becoming a humanitarian tragedy in the Palestinian territory. The 15-member group issued a statement calling for an immediate end to the conflict.
Israel launched the current ground offensive to combat the rocket fire from Gaza, in addition to underground tunnels that militant members of Hamas were using to enter Israel. Reports of combat by both sides have claimed victories, but it is uncertain whether or not the veracity of any of the claims holds up to scrutiny. The only certainty has been the death toll, which has included mostly Palestinian civilians.
US Secretary of State John Kerry was dispatched to Cairo to help create an effective ceasefire. The US is viewed as the only power broker that can wield any kind of influence over the Israeli government.
The prospects for an enduring ceasefire are grim, as senior Israeli cabinet members have levied the specter of a more permanent occupation of Gaza in order to combat the tunnel network that Hamas has built. The uncovered tunnels have multiple exit points, forking off in different directions, making it difficult to predict where Hamas soldiers might end up.
Many are afraid of the Israeli government imposing an occupation, which would only exacerbate the already poor conditions in Gaza. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) bulldozes and damages the ramshackle Gazan infrastructure, causing over 100,000 Palestinians to flee their homes and seek refuge with the UN and other humanitarian watchdogs in the area.
As the IDF has penetrated a densely populated urban area, that number is expected to skyrocket, along with the death toll.
The deputy speaker of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, Moshe Feiglin has called for what can be termed the 'extermination of Gaza,' which would impose 'a total siege on Gaza,' and would target Hamas militants without regard for collateral damage. Israel would then take the land as its own.
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