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Gaza death toll mounts to 95 as truce efforts build


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Palestinians look at their destroyed homes following Israeli air strikes on the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on November 18, 2012. — Photo by AFP

GAZA CITY: Israeli air strikes killed 18 Palestinians on Monday, hiking the Gaza death toll to 95 as global efforts to broker a truce to end the worst violence in four years gathered pace.

The latest bloodshed in the densely populated enclave came after a night of earth-rattling raids, one of them leveling a police station, and sustained fire from Israeli navy ships.

As the violence raged for a sixth day, ceasefire efforts gathered steam, with Hamas officials in Cairo saying Egyptian-led talks with Israel were “positive” but now focused on the need to guarantee any truce.

After a strike on a Gaza City home killed a family of nine on Sunday, the bloodiest day yet of the conflict with 29 killed, angry mourners flocked to the funeral of the five children and four adults whose bodies were carried through streets wrapped in Palestinian flags.

“Do children fire rockets?” shouted a man through a loudspeaker, as the crowd roared back: “No!”

The violence, which comes as Israel gears up for a general election on January 22, raised the spectre of a broader Israeli military campaign like its 22-day Operation Cast Lead, launched in December 2008.

Analysts say Israel’s leadership appears satisfied with its latest operation – dubbed Pillar of Defence – and that it could be ready for a ceasefire.

But the Jewish state has signaled it is ready to expand the operation, while Gaza’s rulers Hamas may feel emboldened after securing the support of the recently-installed governments of Egypt and Tunisia.

The overall death toll from the Israeli raids on the Palestinian territory hit 95 on Monday after an air strike on car in northern Gaza and as four people died of injuries suffered in earlier raids.

The Israeli army said that after a lull overnight, 33 rockets have been fired so far on Monday and another four intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

So far, the Israeli military has struck more than 1,350 targets in Gaza, and 570 rockets have stuck southern Israel while another 302 were intercepted.

Pressure to secure truce

The latest negotiations aimed at ending the conflict, conducted behind closed doors in Cairo, ended without agreement on Sunday. But all sides have expressed a willingness to engage in more talks.

Hamas has demanded Israel lift its six-year siege of Gaza as a basic condition for the end to rocket attacks and is also understood to be seeking a guarantee that Israel will stop assassinating its leaders.

Israel’s targeted killing of a top Hamas military commander on Wednesday was the trigger which started the current flare-up.

Hamas won the backing of rival Palestinian factions Fatah, which runs the West Bank, and Islamic Jihad on Monday.

“From here, we announce with other (factional) leaders, that we are ending the division,” senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub told a thousand-strong crowd who gathered for a demonstration in Ramallah.

Israel has showed little sign of being ready to call off or even briefly halt its campaign, and threatened to expand its operation, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman insisting that “the first and absolute condition for a truce is stopping all fire from Gaza”.

This has piled even more pressure on Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and prompted UN leader Ban Ki-moon to promise to visit the region soon.

Ban was due in Cairo on Monday for talks with Morsi ahead of a visit to meet Israeli and Palestinian officials on Wednesday.

Speaking in Jerusalem after talks with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair expressed hope a truce would firm up in the coming days.

“I very much hope that during the coming days we can achieve cessation on a basis that stops the threat of missiles coming from Gaza, targeted at Israeli civilians and also then relieves the people of Gaza,” he said in remarks broadcast on public radio.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was also due to arrive in Jerusalem on Monday just days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Israel was ready to “significantly expand” its operation.

Early on Monday, public radio reported that some 40,000 reservists were already massed near the Gaza border.

US President Barack Obama has blamed the violence on Palestinian rocket attacks, but said he would prefer a resolution without Israel “ramping up” military activity.

For more in-depth coverage on the Gaza-Israel conflict including stories, features, analysis and multimedia, visit: In-depth coverage: Gaza-Israel conflict

Comments (17) Closed

joe smith Nov 20, 2012 03:02am
Hamas started by firing rockets into Israel. The Israelis killed the top Hamas military commander in response and Hamas responded with more rockets so the mess continues. Note the Isralies are not attacking the West Bank where Fata is in charge. If Hamas was concerned about the civilian population they rule they would not be starting fights with a powerful neighbour.
srgtalks Nov 19, 2012 05:08am
like to know what my dear pakistani friends think of this....whose fault is this? who started this current killing of people in israel/palestine. Why do we have to lose innocent people's lives if some leaders want to hate each other/?
Ram Krishan Sharma Nov 19, 2012 05:32pm
Islam and Judaism are very similar religions in believes and actions. Eye for an Eye is the teaching of both these great religions ,therefore killing of innocent will continue for a long time .
Sehrish Amber Nov 19, 2012 06:57pm
Despite of such a massive aerial bombardment, death toll of Palestinians is still lingering around 95. Where as, in a low level street fighting between Syrian goverment and rebels it is exaggerated to an extent that thousands of casualties are recorded in a single day - strange.
Cyrus Howell Nov 19, 2012 06:02pm
The Palestinians followed the orders of the Arab League in 1947. That was a mistake. The Palestinians in Gaza followed the orders of Hamas. That was a mistake.
ram Nov 19, 2012 05:46pm
Beauty....great No...ledge Go back till 1949 for Answer Sometime you have thief in yr home... Time and again you try to move him out....give life but does palestine
Nimar Nov 19, 2012 07:52am
Where is UN and Human Rights ?
Fayyaz Ahmad Nov 19, 2012 04:21pm
thats wat they all wants.
Noman Nov 19, 2012 04:04pm
You should have asked " Where are 1.5 billion muslims and there leaders?",
kokanawabdera Nov 19, 2012 06:17pm
They said, "O woe to us! Indeed, we were wrongdoers.
usama zafar Nov 19, 2012 01:12pm
guys i think there is some mistake from gaza in the start of this incidence but now israel is not doing the right thing,i think one of the main reason that they are able to do is because of american support.i think its time for un and all the main powers of the world to show their roles especially the muslims countries.after all palestine is a muslim country.
aries Nov 19, 2012 05:41am
When in minority , pretend to be secular. When in majority , declare Islamic country.
Naeem Nov 19, 2012 04:00am
Screaming mob on Malala is silent audiance on 10s of Malala in Palestine
Misbah Nov 19, 2012 09:31am
It is Israel which is declaring all of Palestine to be a Jewish state. Don't write comments without knowing the facts.
Adnan Nov 19, 2012 07:13am
Allah daikh raha hae... 11 months old, 2 years old, 3 years old... but still biased reporting from the western media and claiming Israelis to be innocent and Palestinians to be militants!!! Allah daikh raha hae...
Faqi Nov 19, 2012 05:40am
"Self defence" from toddlers and infants?
punevision Nov 20, 2012 02:03am
Why small kids die in Israely attacks? Do they specifically target small kids and let go the older ones? WIth 8 tanks and 4 bulldozers and enormous amount of ammunition, the death toll could have been very large. Personally, I don't see any solution to this issue. Solutions like eradicate Israel or Palestine are not going to work. There is no way that historical events can be undone without a full fledged battle. Right now Israel and Palestine are enemies. Palestine will kill everybody in Israel if they get an opportunity and so it doesn't have sympathies. Israel needs to stop expanding. My outlook is very negative on this conflict. WHen both parties claim the same land, but cannot live together, there can be no peace. When each party thinks that other party must vacate the land immidiately, there can be no peace. When hatrade is at such a high level, there can be no peace. WHen 8 tanks, 4 bulldozers and number of fighter planes go around targetting small kids and women(?) there can be no peace.