Israel calls up thousands more reservists after request for U.S. ammunition
Israeli military also requested more ammunition from the U.S. (Source: CNN)
GAZA CITY (CNN) - The Israeli military said Thursday that it is calling up 16,000 additional reservists, bolstering its forces for its fight against Hamas in Gaza after a request for more ammunition from the United States.
The addition brings the total number of reservists Israel has called up since the beginning of the operation against Hamas to 86,000, a military spokeswoman said.
The conflict has killed more than 1,300 people in Gaza, most of them civilians. Fifty-six Israeli soldiers have been killed.
After more than three weeks of fighting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that Israel would complete its goal of destroying Hamas' network of tunnels with or without a cease-fire. Netanyahu said this is just the first phase of the demilitarization of Gaza.
While U.S. officials have called on Israel to do more to protect civilians, the United States has agreed to Israel's request to resupply it with several types of ammunition, a U.S. defense official told CNN on condition of anonymity. It's not an emergency sale, the official said.
Among the items being bought are tank rounds and illumination rounds, the Pentagon said. Earlier, officials had said that 120mm mortar rounds and 40mm ammunition for grenade launchers were bought, but later corrected themselves to say that this ammunition was not in this shipment.
Shells land near U.N. school
Meanwhile, a number of shells fell Thursday next to a U.N. school housing displaced residents -- a day after another school-turned-shelter was hit by artillery killing more than a dozen people.
"The school itself was not targeted, it was nearby the school," Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said about the Thursday incident.
No one was killed inside the school - the Beit Lahiya School for Girls, he said. Eight people were slightly injured.
But Gaza health workers are struggling to deal with the relentless stream of dead and wounded.
"The hospitals in Gaza yesterday had a very difficult time. All the hospital morgues were flooding with dead bodies, and the injured were laying on hospital floors because of the lack of hospital beds," said Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the Gaza Ministry of Health.
On Wednesday, artillery fire struck a different school - the Jabalya Elementary Girls School - that was housing more than 3,000 displaced Palestinians.
The United Nations blamed Israel for the attack. The Palestinian Health Ministry said 20 were killed.
A 'likely war crime'?
Wednesday's attack was the sixth on a U.N.-run school since the conflict began on July 8.
Amnesty International, noting that UNRWA shared its coordinates with the Israeli Army 17 times, said the Jabalya attack was a "likely war crime."
"If the strike on this school was the result of Israeli artillery fire it would constitute an indiscriminate attack and a likely war crime," said Philip Luther, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International. "Artillery should never be used against targets in crowded civilian areas and its use in such a manner would never be considered a 'surgical' strike."
Israel has said errant Hamas rocket fire is responsible for some of the attacks in Gaza.
Calls for civilian protection
The violence between Israel's military and Palestinian militants is playing out against a backdrop of failed humanitarian cease-fire attempts, with militants firing rockets from Gaza into Israel and Israelis responding with airstrikes.
A large part of the criticism has been leveled at Israel and its airstrikes, which have bombarded Gaza.
Chile, Peru, Brazil and Ecuador have pulled their ambassadors out of Tel Aviv to protest the Israeli offensive.
Israel, in turn, has accused Hamas of hiding weapons, including rockets, in schools and launching attacks from near shelters.
'This is a disaster'
The incessant attacks and counterattacks are taking a terrible toll on Gazans.
More than 219,000 Palestinians are packed into 86 shelters across Gaza, the U.N. said. That equals about 12 percent of all of Gaza's population.
Clean water is inaccessible for most. And some 3,600 people have lost their homes.
"We cannot supply electricity" for hospitals, sewage treatment or domestic use, said Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil, deputy chairman of the Palestinian Energy Natural Resources Authority in Gaza. "This is a disaster."
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it sent 43 trucks carrying 750 tons of food, medicine and supplies to Gaza on Wednesday. It also said it has sent fuel.
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