GAZA CITY, Gaza, July 21 (UPI) -- The Palestinian death toll reached 500 after Israeli airstrikes in Gaza Sunday night, with Gaza officials claiming entire families have been killed.
Nine members of one family died in the Gaza town of Rafah, said Palestinian emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra. Meanwhile, officials said an airstrike in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis killed a family of 23 people. Another 120 militants died in the Israeli ground offensive in northern Gaza, which began Thursday.
The number of victims in Gaza has been a cause of distress, with the United Nations and Arab states noting the number of Palestinian casualties in the conflict is significantly higher than Israel's. Twenty Israelis are confirmed to have been killed, 18 of them soldiers involved in the ground attack in which Israel claims to have killed at least 120 militants.
Israeli troops moved into Gaza last week after both sides traded rocket fire for eleven days. Israel's stated intent, in the ground attack, is to eliminate networks of tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border, which it says Hamas -- the government and foremost militant group in Gaza -- uses to penetrate Israel to carry out attacks.