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32 Israelis, 650 Palestinians killed over 16 days of standoff

July 23, 2014, 19:12 UTC+3 TEL AVIV

Over nearly 16 days, Palestinian radicals have fired over 2,300 rockets against Israel from Gaza

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TEL AVIV, July 23ю /ITAR-TASS/. A total of 32 Israelis and 650 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian enclave, since the start of Israel’s Protective Edge military operation in Gaza on July 8.

Over nearly 16 days, Palestinian radicals have fired over 2,300 rockets against Israel from Gaza. According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) data, 29 servicemen have been killed and some 200 wounded, with one private listed as missing. Three Israeli civilians have died and some 300 have been injured.

Palestinian authorities assess the death toll from Israel’s army operation in Gaza at 650 and say more than 4,000 have been wounded. According to the Health Ministry, the death toll includes over 120 children and 66 women.

Israeli media report that over 200 armed radicals have been killed over the past six days in the Gaza fighting. According to Israeli state radio, over the 16 days of the operation, the IDF has hit 3,300 terrorist infrastructure facilities from air, sea and ground in Gaza.

Israeli-Palestinian relations grew sour after June 12, 2014, when three Jewish teenagers were abducted in the West Bank. Later the teenagers were found killed. Israel accused militants of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement), which controls the Gaza Strip, of committing the crime.

The operation to search for the teenagers continued for more than two weeks and was accompanied by searches, arrests of Palestinian activists and shellings of the Palestinian territory.

On July 1, 2014, a 16-year-old resident of the East Jerusalem’s Palestinian Arab neighborhood of Shuafat was kidnapped and killed. Six ultra-right Jewish activists were arrested for the crime. The death of the Palestinian teenager caused riots among Palestinians.

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On July 8, 2014, the Israel Defense Forces announced the start of the operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip against Hamas militants. The IDF made strikes on 50 targets in the Gaza Strip, most of which were launching platforms for rockets. Five Palestinians were killed and some 20 were wounded.

The immediate reason for the operation was that cities in southern Israel were massively shelled by Hamas military wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. According to the Israeli army’s press service, on July 7, some 90 missiles were fired on Israel from the Gaza Strip. As of early July, 450 missiles had been fired since the start of 2014.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the IDF to prepare for a possible ground operation. Israel announced mobilization of 1,500 reservists and sent two army brigades to the border with Gaza.

On July 15, there was a brief ceasefire. Israel, the IDF said, abstained from strikes on the Gaza Strip for six hours on Tuesday since 09:00 local time while abiding by a ceasefire agreement suggested as part of Egypt’s peace initiative.

But Palestinian militants rejected Cairo’s plan and continued rocket attacks on Israel all this time. At 15:00 local time, Netanyahu ordered the IDF to resume strikes against Gaza.

Brief ceasefires were also announced later.

Hamas militants set a course for liberation of Israel-occupied Palestinian territories right from the start of their activity on December 14, 1987. The group has made a few dozen terrorist attacks against military and civilian facilities of Israel.

Hamas regularly shells Israel’s territory with homemade rockets. In response, Israel shells Gaza and holds military operations there to suppress militant activity and destroy Hamas’ military structure. According to Hamas, 1,365 Israelis died in 1987-2011 in terrorist attacks made by its militants.

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