Palestinian death toll nears 1,000

BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip (AP) — Gaza officials now say at least 985 Palestinians have been killed and more than 6,000 wounded in 19 days of conflict with Israel. Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip have also destroyed hundreds of homes and sent tens of thousands fleeing.

A Palestinian health official says 85 bodies were pulled from the rubble today.

The scope of the destruction is becoming apparent as the two sides observe a 12-hour humanitarian truce. Homes have been pulverized, wreckage blocks roads, power cables dangle and dead donkeys lie in the streets.

As the lull in the fighting took effect, frantic residents poured into the streets of hard-hit Beit Hanoun (bayt ha-NOON') to inspect the damage to their homes and retrieve belongings. Most left the town after Israeli warned it would be shelled.

In the town of Khan Younis, hundreds marched in a funeral procession for 20 members of an extended family, including at least 10 children.

Israel has lost 37 soldiers and three civilians in the conflict. The military says Gaza militants have fired close to 2,500 rockets at Israel, and Israeli soldiers have uncovered 31 tunnels, destroying half of them.