Over 100 Palestinians killed in one day
The Palestinian Ministry of Health on Tuesday afternoon said that more than 100 Palestinians had been killed in the Israeli bombardment on Tuesday alone, bringing the total past 1,200 as hundreds of thousands fled their homes across the Strip.
Earlier statements from the ministry had given the number of dead at around 57 for the morning, but after consultation with hospitals across the Strip the total was revised to more than 106 dead and hundreds more injured.
The Ministry of Health also said that as of Monday night nearly 5,000 homes had been completely destroyed, while tens of thousands more had been partially destroyed.
The United Nations, meanwhile, estimated that more than 215,000 Gazans had fled their home, or more than 10 percent of the besieged coastal enclave's total population.
Late Monday, Israeli authorities had given 400,000 Gazans evacuation orders, but with all the borders closed and the Israeli bombardment and ground invasion continuing in the northern, central, and southern Gaza Strip, the vast majority had nowhere to go except UN shelters.
Last week, however, Israeli shelling hit at least four UN-designated shelters, killing more than 20 and injuring hundreds.
The violence followed a relatively quiet weekend in which more than 100 bodies were found in Gaza rubble but Israeli shelling killed only a handful of Palestinians, drawing increasingly urgent international demands for an end to the fighting.
"In the name of humanity, the violence must stop," pleaded UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
But the calls appeared to be falling on deaf ears, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning Monday it would be "a lengthy campaign" that would not end before troops destroyed cross-border tunnels used for staging attacks on southern Israel.
"Israeli citizens cannot live with the threat from rockets and from death tunnels -- death from above and from below," he said.
On the ground, hundreds of Palestinians could be seen leaving their homes after the army warned residents of five areas to flee and take refugee in central Gaza City, an AFP correspondent said.
Many headed for already-cramped UN schools in the north, where children ran barefoot around a dirty school yard alongside stinking piles of rubbish.
"We came yesterday after the army warned us to leave," said 46-year-old Ghassan Abed who fled from his home in the northern town of Beit Lahiya with his wife and six children.
"About 200 people just from our street have fled," he said.
UN statistics published Monday showed 215,000 Palestinians had already fled their homes, with 170,461 staying in 82 of the agency's schools.
On Tuesday, several tank shells struck Gaza's sole power plant, causing damage and a fire, bringing it grinding to a halt, a senior official with the power authority said.
Another air strike targeted the home of top Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City's Shati refugee camp, officials said.