Isreal's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was accused today of "speculating in Palestinian blood" for his own electoral ends by launching an ongoing bombardment of Gaza.
Tel Aviv claims its assault is in retaliation for Hamas missile attacks from within Gaza but opposition politicians in Israel and campaigners globally condemned the action as a war crime.
In a speech today Mr Netanyahu said Israel would do "whatever was necessary to defend itself."
But the offensive also comes in the run-up to elections in January.
Left-wing opposition Hadash party MP Mohammed Baraka accused the PM of "making another round in a circle of blood for cynical political interests" and "speculating in the blood of the Palestinian people."
He warned that the reckless offensive would cost the lives of Israelis.
Hadash, which includes Jews and Arabs, called for an immediate ceasefire and the opening of genuine negotiations.
The Israeli attack, which began on Wednesday with the targeted assassination of Hamas military chief Ahmad al-Ja'abari, comes almost exactly four years after Operation Cast Lead in which up to 1,400 Palestinians were killed.
There are now fears that the current military action could escalate to similar bloody proportions.
Thirteen people were killed in Gaza on Wednesday including a pregnant woman with twins, an 11-month old boy and two infants.
One of the dead was the 11-month-old son of a local BBC cameraman.
A further 130 were wounded, according to Gaza's health ministry.
today a missile fired from Gaza hit an apartment block in the Israeli town of Kiryat Malachi, killing three people, and there were reports of a further seven fatalities in the strip.
Israel has received the unequivocal backing of Britain the US and other western states, with Foreign Secretary William Hague stating that "Hamas bears principal responsibility for the current crisis."
But Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn told the Star that the time was long past for the imposition of economic sanctions against Israel.
"Once again Israel has wantonly attacked the people of Gaza, bombing and killing.
"This is effectively a first world state attacking a poor and largely defenceless population. It looks like a rerun of Operation Cast Lead," he said.
"The timing is interesting and it looks like Netanyahu is creating a crisis to ensure his re-election.
"But it also plays into what's happening in the gulf and the situation with Iran. It is an incredibly dangerous situation."
Protests took place last night in Tel Aviv, Jerusalam and Haifa calling for an end to the killing.
Campaigners in Britain also called an emergency demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in London, with further protests scheduled to take place across Britain.
Sarah Colborne of the Palestine Solidarity campaign said: "Israeli politicians may have thought that by breaking the ceasefire, attacking Gaza, killing men, women and children indiscriminately, and committing war crimes, they will win more votes in the forthcoming Israeli elections.
"But millions of people worldwide are expressing revulsion and horror Israel's attack on Gaza," said Ms Colborne.
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