Israel widens Gaza offensive, vows to destroy Hamas tunnels

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Israel widens Gaza offensive
Gaza/Jerusalem, July 31: Israel on Thursday vowed to destroy Hamas tunnel network in Gaza "with or without a ceasefire" and mobilised 16,000 more reservists to widen its 24-day military campaign that has killed more than 1,374 Palestinians, mostly civilians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel is "determined" to destroy all the tunnels built by Hamas to infiltrate into its territory.

Speaking prior to a security cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said that Israel Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers were currently finishing off the job of destroying tunnels.

"We have destroyed dozens of tunnels and we will finish the rest with or without a cease-fire," the Israeli Premier emphasised. He also claimed that Israeli troops had destroyed "thousands of terror sites" and "hundreds of terrorists had been killed".

The Israeli Prime Minister also called on the citizens to stand together during these tense and tough times. The Israeli security cabinet last night approved continuing with the offensive 'Operation Protective Edge' launched on July 8 despite world leaders appealing Israel for restraint.

Israel: We have destroyed dozens of tunnels and we will finish the rest

It mobilised another 16,000 reservists to widen the offensive. The new call-up orders take the total number of reserves in the conflict to 86,000.

The move coincides with stalled diplomatic efforts to end the war. The conflict has claimed lives of more than 1,374 Palestinians - most of them civilians - and reduced the entire Gaza neighborhoods to ruins, Palestinians officials said.

At least 10 people were killed today in Israeli airstrikes in central and southern Gaza. Some 58 Israelis have been killed, 56 soldiers and two civilians.

A Thai worker in Israel has also died. Israel began the offensive with a goal to stop rocket barrages coming out of Gaza but later broadened its mandate to destroy Hamas' network of tunnels, some of which have been used by the militants to carry out cross-border attacks inside Israel.

Despite the decision to press ahead with the operation, Israel has also sent a delegation to Egypt, which along with the US has failingly tried to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.


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