Israel said on Thursday it would not pull troops from Gaza until they finish destroying a network of cross-border tunnels, despite sharp United Nations criticism over the Palestinian civilian death toll.
Speaking at a special Cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would not accept any ceasefire that did not allow troops to continue destroying tunnels used by militants to attack Israel.
“Until now, we have destroyed dozens of terror tunnels and we are determined to finish this mission — with or without a ceasefire,” he said at the start of the meeting.
“So I will not accept any (truce) proposal that does not allow the IDF (army) to complete this work for the security of Israel’s citizens.”
His remarks came after the army confirmed mobilising another 16,000 reservists, hiking the total number called up to 86,000.
HOW MANY TROOPS
Israel does not say how many troops are currently fighting inside the Gaza Strip.
Washington also said it had agreed to restock Israel’s dwindling ammunition supplies, despite increasing international concern over the death toll in Gaza, where 1,395 people have been killed in 24 days of violence.
UN figures indicate two-thirds of the victims were civilians. Of the civilian dead, nearly half were women and children.
Following the shelling of a UN school in northern Gaza on Wednesday which killed 16, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay slammed Israel for attacking homes, schools and hospitals, accusing it of “deliberate defiance” of international law.
“None of this appears to me to be accidental,” she told reporters. “There appears to be deliberate defiance of obligations that international law imposes on Israel.” (AFP)