As it happened: Gaza conflict intensifies

Key Points

  • Gaza suffers highest death toll and most intense shelling since the launch of Israel's offensive
  • At least 87 Palestinians are said to have been killed on Sunday, 60 in one neighbourhood alone
  • Israel's military confirms the deaths of 13 soldiers overnight after Hamas claims a major attack
  • Gaza militants are continuing to fire rockets into Israel, with one landing in the city of Ashkelon
  • Israel earlier said it had expanded its operation - launched 13 days ago - against Hamas militants
  • All times BST (GMT +1)

    Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the conflict in Gaza. Sunday has seen the heaviest bombardment of Gaza since the Israeli offensive began. The Palestinian leadership has condemned as a massacre the killing of at least 60 people in one neighbourhood of Gaza, Shejaiya. Thousands of Palestinian civilians are fleeing the area. Meanwhile rocket fire from the strip, into Israel, has continued. Hamas also claims it carried out a major attack on Israeli forces in Gaza, causing multiple casualties - although Israel has not commented on this.


    Paramedics say rescue workers have so far not been able to get to East Shejaiya, an area very close to the Israeli border, which has seen heavy shelling. The death toll in the area is expected to rise.

    Medic in Shejaiya

    Palestinians are fleeing Shejaiya in their thousands amid scenes of panic. Israel says it is targeting militants operating in the area, and that it has been warning civilians to evacuate for days.

    Palestinians flee Shejaiya
    16:30: Breaking News

    Some 13 Israeli soldiers were killed overnight in Gaza, news agencies, quoting Israeli military sources, say. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to address the nation shortly.


    The Israel Defense Forces twitter account in Hebrew (@idfonline) says the dead soldiers are from the Golani Brigade, an Israeli infantry unit.


    Daniel Taub, Israeli ambassador to the UK, tells the BBC: "This area Shejaiya is a very densely populated area in Gaza, [it also has] densest concentrations of Hamas activity. We know that underneath this area are stockpiles of weapons, terrorist headquarters."

    Belal, a Palestinian doctor in Gaza

    tweets: From the very west side of Gaza city I can hear artillery hitting the far eastern side, loud and non-stopping. #GazaUnderAttack

    BBC World

    tweets: Shejaiya is "terror stronghold" & centre for rockets fired at Israel - PM Netanyahu in BBC Arabic interview

    Kelvin Brown BBC producer in Gaza

    tweets: An Israeli air strike just hit a house a few streets away from our bureau.

    Impact of Israeli air strike

    More on that BBC Arabic interview with Israel's PM. Mr Netanyahu said that the area of Shejaiya in Gaza under attack today is a "terror stronghold" and is a centre for rockets that are fired out to Israel. He defended the Israeli assault on Gaza saying that Israeli soldiers came under heavy fire when they entered the area in search of tunnels. He said they had no choice but to enter densely populated areas and says that they asked civilians to leave.

    Ben White, writer

    tweets: Israel has lost more soldiers in a 3 day old ground offensive than it did during Cast Lead & Pillar of Defense combined (12). #Gaza

    Israel Defence Forces

    have now tweeted in English, confirming the deaths of those Israeli soldiers: "Since last night, 13 soldiers from the IDF's Golani Brigade were killed while fighting Hamas terrorists in Gaza."

    Belal, a Palestinian doctor in Gaza

    tweets: In Gaza Israel killed 100 people today alone; and the day is not over yet. #PrayForGaza #GazaUnderAttack

    Peter Stefanovic, Channel Nine News (Australia)

    tweets: I'm in east Gaza. Scenes of absolute devastation. Buildings destroyed. Smoke rising. Bodies all over.

    Sophia Jones, Huffington Post journalist

    tweets: On both sides of the Israel/Gaza border, there has been pressure on press not to cross, both by Israel and Hamas. Not just one side.


    This photo shows Golani Brigade soldiers making preparations near the Gaza border on Saturday.

    Golani Brigade soldiers near the Gaza border 19 July
    View to the Mid East, a writer in Ashdod, Israel

    tweets: One of the soldiers who was killed in Gaza tonight prays at the same synagogue I go to. Grew up in the same neighbourhood.

    Chris Gunness, UNRWA spokesperson

    tweets: in Gaza 81,000 displaced people have now taken refuge in 61 UNRWA shelters


    The number of people who have fled their homes in Gaza has more than tripled since the start of Israel's ground operation and the UN refugee agency says it plans to open more schools as shelters - AP.


    US President Barack Obama spoke to members of his national security team this morning about Gaza and Ukraine. He also phoned Mr Netanyahu, the White House says.

    Israel News Feed

    tweets: 4 Rockets exploded moments ago following red sirens in Sderot in open Area, no injuries.

    Kelvin Brown, BBC News

    tweets: My colleague @BBCPaulAdams reports he saw masked Palestinian gunmen for the first time when he was in Shejaiya earlier today.

    17:14: Chris Morris, BBC News, Sderot, Israel

    For the Israelis [the deaths of the soldiers] will certainly be a shock and will show them that there is a price to be paid for this type of operation.

    Diana Alzeer, Palestinian Rights Advocator

    tweets: Factions and PLO call for a general strike to take place in #Palestine tomorrow for #Gaza


    Mr Netanyahu is due to make a statement in Tel Aviv 45 minutes from now.

    Malaka Mohammed

    tweets: Just spoken to my father; there are lots of my neighbours in Nazaz Street near Al-Shohada mosque trapped & under rubble

    Avi Mayer, Israeli blogger

    tweets: The IDF is currently working on identifying all 13 of the fallen soldiers. Their names will be released following the families' consent.


    Israel's ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub, tells BBC News Israeli forces were targeting an area where Hamas militants make rockets to fire into Israel. "What we have tried to do is avoid, try and leave the civilians out of the equation," he says. "We have been beseeching, on radio broadcasts, sometimes by telephone calls to the houses of individual families, and certainly by leaflets, urging people to leave. And we have Hamas, which is not only hiding behind these people, but also they are forcing civilians to remain behind."

    Hugh Naylor, Mid East correspondent at The National

    tweets: Met a man who fled Israeli shelling in east Gaza with family. Barefoot. He saw the mangled corpses of his neighbours in the street as he left


    Relatives of Palestinians killed during the overnight shelling of Shejaiya by the Israeli army collect a body at the morgue of the al-Shifa hospital.

    Relatives of Palestinians killed during the overnight shelling of Shejaiya by the Israeli army collect a body at the morgue of the al-Shifa hospital, 20 July

    Eight killed in air strike on Gaza City's Rimal district, medics say - AFP.


    IDF chief Benny Gantz has admitted combat is some of the areas in Gaza is difficult and complex but says his forces are determined to accomplish the mission, Israeli daily Haaretz reports on its live page. "There are casualties in a fight, but we have a mission," he told reporters.

    UNRWA, UN Relief and Works Agency, responsible for the welfare of Palestine refugees.

    tweets: Some efforts have been made to undertake local delivery of goods to Beit Hanoun but access has so far been denied by Israeli authorities.


    In addition to the eight people reportedly killed by the Israeli air strike on the Rimal neighbourhood, a girl of 15 was killed in an air strike on the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, AFP adds.


    A recap of the latest diplomatic efforts to end the bloodshed: US Secretary of State John Kerry has said Israel is under siege from "terrorists" and the US completely supports its right to defend itself. He said that he would be travelling to the Middle East to help broker a full ceasefire. Qatar is hosting a meeting later between UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as part of those efforts.


    Friends and relatives of Israeli Sergeant Adar Barsano mourn during his funeral at the military cemetery in the northern Israeli city of Nahariya.

    Friends and relatives of Israeli Sergeant Adar Barsano mourn during his funeral at the military cemetery in the northern Israeli city of Nahariya, 20 July
    Ben White, freelance journalist and writer

    tweets: Norwegian MP calls for boycott of Israel over its Gaza offensive

    Stephen Herd, Cameraman for Channel 4 News

    tweets: Traumatised children sit in Gaza hospital. Their mother has just been killed and their house destroyed. #c4news


    Reuters news agency reports that this is the Israeli military's highest one-day death toll since the 2006 war against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

    The photo shows an Israeli gunner waiting to fire into Lebanon eight years ago.

    An Israeli gunner sits in a mobile artillery piece as it waits to fire into southern Lebanon from a position near Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel, 14 July 2006

    Michael B Da Silva emailed from Cape Town to say: "What Israel is doing is wrong. What Hamas has done is wrong. What the media is doing is wrong. Israel strikes because Hamas struck because Israel struck because Hamas struck and so on and so on. Separate development and segregation is part and parcel of the world and its inhabitants. Build walls if it keeps the peace. Hamas must cease and desist and so must the Israelis."


    At least seven people, "all women and children", were killed this afternoon in an Israeli air strike on a house in central Gaza, Spain's Efe news agency reports from Gaza, quoting witnesses.

    Mohammed Omer, Journalist

    tweets: 8 killed in the apt. in Rimal. they were peacefully ready to eat Iftar meal, but were killed by Israeli missile. Gaza is burning


    AFP now estimates that 97 Palestinians were killed today alone.


    More photos from the funeral of Israeli Sgt Barsano, killed on Saturday morning along with Major Amotz Greenberg, when their patrol vehicle was shot at from the central Gaza side of the border.

    Mourners at the funeral of Sergeant Adar Barsano during his funeral in Nahariya, Israel, 20 July
    Mourners at the funeral of Sergeant Adar Barsano during his funeral in Nahariya, Israel, 20 July
    Mourners at the funeral of Sergeant Adar Barsano during his funeral in Nahariya, Israel, 20 July
    Rana, Writer for Electronic Intifada

    tweets: Power cuts exceed 24 hours in Gaza.


    An Israeli army spokesman says at least 100 Palestinian militants have been killed by Israeli forces since the ground operation began.


    A reminder: more than 425 Palestinians have been killed since the operation began, according to Palestinian health officials.


    Palestinians fleeing their homes in the Shejaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City today.

    Palestinians flee their homes in the Shejaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City, 20 July
    Palestinians flee their homes in the Shejaiya neighbourhood of Gaza City, 20 July
    Malaka Mohammed, Palestinian blogger

    tweets: Wafa, 1, lives by my house. She lost her grandfathers, father and 6 of her family

    Judy Freedman, a mother in Hashmonaim, Israel

    emails: I am British born. Mother of 6 sons and a daughter, all of whom serve in the army. My heart breaks for those Gaza hostages who are being killed, but there is no other way, we cannot permit a daily barrage of rockets being fired into us. 4 of my sons are on the front just now, they will do what has to be done. And one day those poor Gazans will free themselves of their Hamas torturers and live a life of prosperity, with Israeli help and technology.

    Esther Voet, Dir of Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion in The Netherlands

    tweets: Hamas tunnel network costs hundreds of million dollars and was being built even as 42,000 civil servants in Gaza went without salaries.

    Naz Bashir

    emails: It shows the inept and powerless UN inability to do anything about these horrific events as each side is claiming the right to defend itself against terror. Yet both sides are committing terror acts. Terror against each other, terror on the young, the old, women and children. It is the ordinary people that are paying the price for arrogance and power motivated actions of both Hamas and the government of Israel.


    Pro-Palestinian protesters in the Moroccan capital, Rabat.

    Moroccan protesters deploy a giant Palestinian flag during a demonstration in Rabat in support of the Palestinian people and against the ongoing Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip, 20 July

    Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is getting ready to address the nation.

    Dan Shapiro, US Ambassador to Israel

    tweets: Deepest condolences to the families of IDF soldiers who fell in Gaza, & to the families of Palestinian civilians killed in Gaza.


    Mr Netanyahu has just begun speaking.


    "No war more righteous than this" - Netanyahu, speaking in Hebrew, quoted by Israeli daily Haaretz.


    "We will finish the mission we started, and return the quiet to the south, the centre, all of Israel" - Netanyahu, via Jerusalem Post reporter Ben Hartman.


    Mr Netanyahu offers his condolences to the families of the Israeli soldiers killed. Israelis, he says, must remain united and strong on days like this. Israelis are engaged in a war over their homeland, he says. "We will continue for as long as it takes," he adds.


    Mr Netanyahu talks of his "deep pain" over the deaths of Israeli troops in Gaza.


    In his speech, which has just ended, the Israeli prime minister stressed again and again that the operation in Gaza would continue as long as necessary to ensure the security of Israeli civilians.


    Protesters in Istanbul, Turkey, burn an effigy of Mr Netanyahu outside the Israeli consulate.

    Protesters in Istanbul, Turkey, burn an effigy of  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside the Israeli consulate, 20 July

    Some more details of Mr Netanyahu's speech: he said that Hamas, not Israel, was responsible for the escalation in Gaza. He said that he had spoken to US President Barack Obama and thanked him for his support. He said that the operation was proceeding as planned. He said it would be a very long campaign but, with God's help, Israel would achieve its goals.

    Allison, Assistant Editor @Mondoweiss

    tweets: Most shops are closed today in Ramallah in a strike because of the 100+ killings in #Gaza yesterday.

    Maysara Al Arabeed, Palestinian blogger in Gaza

    tweets: A friend of mine from Gaza says ''I just responded to a dead person's friend request! seems killed yesterday after d request''


    The IDF, Israel's military, has given details of the operation to date: 110 militants killed and 1,032 "terror sites" targeted. "Amongst the sites that were targeted were: rocket launching facilities, command and control headquarters, and underground rocket launchers," it says.

    Katherine in Israel

    emails: Hamas is firing rockets at Israeli citizens from within residential neighbourhoods. The Israeli army has to stop this situation which has been going on for 14 years. What would they [Hamas] do if Israel actually managed to make peace with the Palestinians and work with them to make a prosperous and happy country? Rockets are fired non-stop at our own kids.

    18:39: Jonathan Marcus, defence correspondent, BBC News

    For now, in a curious way, it may be Hamas that feels the more confident. According to its narrative it has withstood the "iron fist" albeit at a cost of hundreds of "martyrs". But its credentials as a resistance force have been strengthened and it has shown by its incursions that it can even take the battle to the enemy. Israel's fundamental goal in whatever remains of this operation will be to significantly disrupt this narrative.

    Myra from Montreal, Canada

    emails: just returned from Israel and if the Palestinians loved life as much as they worshipped death, they would see that peace and not war is what Israel wants.

    Ahmed Al-Farra, Gaza resident

    tweets: Breaking | My home is shaking right now because of Israeli bombing in Gaza


    Palestinian rescue workers inspect a bomb-damaged building in Gaza City's Shejaiya neighbourhood, after voices are heard from under the rubble.

    Palestinian rescue workers inspect a bomb-damaged building in Gaza City, 20 July
    Samah Saleh, Doctor in Gaza

    tweets: Dina arrived in 3rd degree burns in her face and torso, two legs already amputated, not looking away from her mother. Further tweets: Dina died of her injury an hour later. Her mother stayed in surgery for hours, may undergo amputation tmw!


    Sagit Greenberg, the wife of Israeli soldier Maj Amotz Greenberg, mourns during his funeral in the central town of Hod Hasharon.

    Sagit Greenberg, the wife of Israeli soldier Maj Amotz Greenberg, mourns during his funeral in the central town of Hod Hasharon, 20 July
    Oren Rosenfeld, documentary maker from Jerusalem

    tweets: Journalists crossing into Gaza today forced to sign a document that IDF not responsible for their safety in the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip.


    An Israeli bulldozer rolls towards the border with Gaza. Photo tweeted by Chris Morris, BBC News.

    Israeli bulldozer rolls towards the birder with Gaza, 20 July

    After delivering his speech, Mr Netanyahu went into a meeting of his security cabinet.


    A pro-Palestinian rally in Vienna, Austria.

    A pro-Palestinian rally in Vienna, Austria, 20 July

    A fire burns after a pro-Palestinian protest in Sarcelles, Paris. Clashes erupted between protesters and police at the end of the demonstration.

    A fire burns after a pro-Palestinian protest in Sarcelles, Paris, 20 July
    Daniel Nisman, Security Analysist in Tel Aviv

    tweets: Rocket attacks resume now to medium ranges. Hamas may seek to send a message after Netanyahu's presser and target long range cities.

    Peter Beaumont, Jerusalem Correspondent for the Guardian and the Observer

    tweets: Before anyone asks - I have no idea who broke the truce first and I was on the ground

    Belal, Doctor in Gaza

    tweets: Cousins started coming in, then I learned that the victims were a distant cousin of mine, 9-month pregnant, and her foetus and 2 children.

    Avi Mayer, Israeli blogger

    tweets: We don't know the soldiers' names, but thirteen families have just had their lives torn apart. May they find comfort.


    And there we end our live updates on the deadliest day of Israel's operation against militants in the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinian death toll reportedly now exceeds 425. As Israel mourns 18 of its soldiers, 13 of them killed in the past 24 hours, Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed to continue "for as long as it takes". For further updates, follow our news story.


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