World / Middle East

Israeli army arrests 150 suspected Hamas members in Gaza

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-07-24 21:08

JERUSALEM - Israel apprehended 150 alleged Hamas members overnight Thursday in Gaza, as it widens a 17-day military campaign despite international calls for cease-fire.

The men were arrested in the Rafah area, near the border with Egypt, a military spokesperson told Xinhua.

Most of them were taken away from their homes, the Ha'aretz daily reported.

A photo posted on Israel's Walla website shows the detainees walking near the sandy Israel-Gaza border, wearing only underwear, as armed soldiers transferring them for questioning by Shin Bet, the Israeli security service.

Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported that 29 people were killed in Gaza by Israeli strikes overnight, including 10 members from the same family.

Palestinian health officials said the death toll in Gaza reached 718, including 540 civilians. About one in four casualties was a minor, according the United Nations statistics. Some 32 Israelis were killed, including three civilians.

On Wednesday, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) decided to form a committee to look into possible Israeli war crimes in Gaza, in a move that angered Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the decision as "a travesty."

Moshe Ya'alon, the Israeli minister of defense, said he instructed his troops on Wednesday to prepare for a wider ground war.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry left Israel late Wednesday after a day-long visit aimed at brokering a cease-fire agreement to end the ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also visited the region, but there have been no official reports regarding a possible breakthrough in the cease-fire efforts.

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