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DEATH TOLL RISES AS GAZA OFFENSIVE ESCALATES …

Israel’s invasion of Gaza (a.k.a. “Operation Protective Edge“) has killed more than 337 Palestinian civilians – including 77 children – since it was launched a week-and-half ago.

And the worst could be yet to come …

Israeli leaders have threatened an escalation to the conflict … which was launched in response to the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers last month.

Meanwhile Palestinian militants allied with Hamas have fired more than 1,600 missiles into Israel and sent “suicide donkeys” to target Israeli ground forces.

“They used (donkeys) as a human shield, or an animal shield, if you like,” an Israeli spokesman said. “Anything, an animal or an international building, that can help make use of innocent people or international (citizens), they will use it. We see it time and again.”

Israel’s offensive – subsidized in part by American taxpayers – has drawn international condemnation.  Large anti-Israeli protests were held over the weekend in the European capitals of Dublin, London, Paris, Brussels, and Madrid.

Undeterred, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday he had instructed Israeli commanders to “prepare for the possibility of significantly widening the ground operation.”

“We don’t want to kill civilians, but Hamas is a terrorist organization that hides behind human shields,” he said.

U.S. president Barack Obama supports the Israeli action, but says he is “deeply concerned about the risks of further escalation and the loss of more innocent life.”

Obama added he was hopeful Israel would conduct future operations “in a way that minimizes civilian casualties.”

This website supports Israel’s right to defend itself as it sees fit – and wage war in any manner it deems appropriate.  We do not, however, support the ongoing subsidization of such efforts by American taxpayers.

UPDATE: As of Sunday afternoon (EDT), the death toll has now climbed over 400.