Israel defends mosque attack, promises more strikes; Gaza death toll hits 135

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel is defending its airstrike against a Gaza mosque, saying Hamas was hiding rockets there, right next to another religious site and civilian homes.

Releasing an aerial photo of the mosque, the Israeli military said Gaza militant groups deliberately endanger civilians by using religious sites to conceal weapons and establish underground tunnel networks.

The Israeli military says militants have fired nearly 700 rockets toward Israel over the past five days. It says the airstrikes will continue until the rocket fire ceases.

Israel has also demolished dozens of homes it says are used by Hamas for military purposes.

Palestinians say 135 people have been killed in five days of Israeli airstrikes, many of them civilians. Hamas officials say one of those killed was a nephew of a top Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh (IHS'-may-el hah-NEE'-yuh).

A handful of Israelis have been wounded by rockets but no deaths have been reported. That is attributed to Israel's "Iron Dome" rocket defense system, which has intercepted more than 130 incoming rockets.

%@AP Links

APPHOTO HM104: Palestinians walk past the ruins of the Al-Tawfeeq mosque after it was hit by an Israeli missile strike in the Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Saturday, July 12, 2014. Palestinian officials said Israeli airstrikes targeting Hamas in Gaza hit a mosque and a center for the disabled where two women were killed Saturday, raising the Palestinian death toll from the offensive to more than 120, that showed no signs of slowing down. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa) (12 Jul 2014)

<<APPHOTO HM104 (07/12/14)££

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.