Attacks by Israeli forces killed more than 70 Palestinians on Saturday as fighting intensified in northern Gaza, prompting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to call the incursion “more than a holocaust.” Abbas made the comment in response to Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai’s warning Friday that Palestinians “are bringing upon themselves a greater Shoah” with their ramped-up rocket fire.
The number of civilian casualties, as well as the overall death toll, rose throughout the day and varied according to the source. Two Israeli soldiers were killed and seven were wounded, the Israeli military reported. Below, we’ve assembled a short list of links to sources offering varying viewpoints, opinions and estimates as of Saturday afternoon.
Update 1: The BBC now puts the death toll at roughly 100 people.
Update 2: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has broken off contact with Israel over the attacks.
Update 3: The Israeli military says it has withdrawn most of its troops from Northern Gaza.
According to The New York Times, “Half the dead were reported to be Hamas gunmen or those belonging to affiliated groups like Islamic Jihad. But as many as 19 Palestinian civilians also died in the heavily populated area, including four children, according to Dr. Moawiya Hassanain of the Gazan Health Ministry.”
The online English-language version of Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that 61 Palestinians had died on Saturday [the New York Times story said “at least 46 people” were killed]. Haaretz said also that “at least 29 [Palestinian] civilians” were among the dead.
The right-leaning Jerusalem Post on Saturday offered its own take, evidenced by the Post lead: “Two IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers were killed and five others wounded [Saturday] during a military operation meant to combat the ongoing Palestinian rocket fire on Israeli cities in the western Negev.”
WAFA, the Palestine News Agency, kept tabs on the day’s reports on its news site, telling readers at one point that “at least 81 citizens were killed” since this latest round of violence erupted Wednesday. It also reported Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ call for international protection for the Palestinian people” and his pronouncement that the attacks constitute “more than a holocaust.”
According to this story by The International Middle East Media Center, an independent media center developed by Palestinian and international journalists, “Palestinian medical sources reported that the death toll in the Gaza Strip stood at 56 by Saturday night.”
The Palestinian/Israeli Alternative Information Center, a “joint Palestinian-Israeli activist organization,” issued this “Joint Statement Against the Israeli Airstrikes on the Gaza Strip,” signed by Israeli, Palestinian, Scandinavian and European organizations, on Saturday.
AP photo / Adel Hana
A Palestinian medic evacuates an injured child following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on Saturday.