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Israeli shelling shuts down sole Gaza power plant

By Staff Reporter

Israel has unleashed its heaviest bombardment in the war against Hamas, striking symbols of the militant group's control in Gaza and firing tank shells that shut down the strip's only power plant.

Thick black smoke from the plant's burning fuel tank rose for hours. The station's shutdown further disrupted the supply of electricity and water to the 1.7 million people packed into the narrow Palestinian coastal territory.

Last night people in the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza reported intense tank shelling. Ten members of an extended family were killed and 50 other people wounded in the area, Palestinian health officials said. Two brothers driving in a car with markings of a UN aid agency were killed by shrapnel, an area resident said.

The heavy strikes – which came a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a "prolonged" campaign against Hamas – were a new blow to international efforts to reach a sustainable truce in the fighting.

Israel has vowed to stop the Hamas rocket and mortar fire that has reached increasingly deeper into its territory and to destroy a sophisticated network of tunnels that have been used by the militants to infiltrate the Jewish state. For its part, Hamas has so far rejected ceasefire efforts unless its demands are met, including a lifting of a punishing blockade.

At least 1,175 Palestinians have been killed since the start of fighting on July 8, including at least 100 yesterday, said Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra.

The dead included multiple members of at least five families who were pulled from the rubble after airstrikes and tank shelling struck their homes, including the mayor of a refugee camp and his 70-year-old father.

Israel has reported 53 soldiers and three civilians killed.

Already, the intensity and the scope of the current Gaza operation is on par with an invasion five years ago, which ended with Israel unilaterally withdrawing after hitting Hamas hard.

Yesterday Israeli warplanes carried out dozens of attacks, levelling the home of the top Hamas leader in Gaza and damaging the offices of the movement's Al-Aqsa satellite TV station.

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