Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Gaza counts its dead as Israel plans ground invasion

Palestinians run away from a damaged building after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City (AP)
Palestinians run away from a damaged building after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City (AP)
Palestinians sift through the rubble of a family house following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City (AP)
Israeli soldiers march in a gathering area near the Israel Gaza Strip border, in southern Israel (AP)
OFAKIM, ISRAEL- NOVEMBER 18: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis inspect the damage to a house that was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip on November 18, 2012 in Ofakim, Israel. Israeli/Gaza attacks have entered the fifth day, with two media buildings being recently struck and several journalists subsequently injured. According to health officials in Gaza, at least 50 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched operation Pillar of Defence. So far three Israelis have died in the exchange of missiles which followed an air strike on Wednesday that killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
YAD MORDEHAI, ISRAEL- NOVEMBER 18: (ISRAEL OUT) Ultra Orthodox Jewish men sing and dance for Israeli soldiers on their way to the Gaza border on November 18, 2012 in Yad Mordehai, Israel. Israeli/Gaza attacks have entered the fifth day, with two media buildings being recently struck and several journalists subsequently injured. According to health officials in Gaza, at least 50 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched operation Pillar of Defence. So far three Israelis have died in the exchange of missiles which followed an air strike on Wednesday that killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
YAD MORDEHAI, ISRAEL- NOVEMBER 18: (ISRAEL OUT) Ultra Orthodox Jewish men sing and dance for Israeli soldiers on their way to the Gaza border on November 18, 2012 in Yad Mordehai, Israel. Israeli/Gaza attacks have entered the fifth day, with two media buildings being recently struck and several journalists subsequently injured. According to health officials in Gaza, at least 50 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched operation Pillar of Defence. So far three Israelis have died in the exchange of missiles which followed an air strike on Wednesday that killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
ASHKELON, ISRAEL- NOVEMBER 18: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis gather next to a house that was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip on November 18, 2012 in Ashkelon, Israel. Israeli/Gaza attacks have entered the fifth day, with two media buildings being recently struck and several journalists subsequently injured. According to health officials in Gaza, at least 50 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched operation Pillar of Defence. So far three Israelis have died in the exchange of missiles which followed an air strike on Wednesday that killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
ASHKELON, ISRAEL- NOVEMBER 18: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli workers inspect the damage to a house that was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip on November 18, 2012 in Ashkelon, Israel. Israeli/Gaza attacks have entered the fifth day, with two media buildings being recently struck and several journalists subsequently injured. According to health officials in Gaza, at least 50 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched operation Pillar of Defence. So far three Israelis have died in the exchange of missiles which followed an air strike on Wednesday that killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers tend to their tanks in a deployment area on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, on November 18, 2012
ISRAEL/GAZA BORDER, ISRAEL- NOVEMBER 18: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli soldiers stand on and around their tanks in a deployment area on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, on November 18, 2012 , in Israel. Israeli shelling of Gaza has entered its fifth day, with two media buildings being recently struck and several journalists injured. According to health officials in Gaza, at least 50 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched operation Pillar of Defence. So far three Israelis have died in the exchange of missiles which followed an air strike on Wednesday that killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers stand on and around their tanks in a deployment area on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, on November 18, 2012
ISRAEL/GAZA BORDER, ISRAEL- NOVEMBER 18: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli soldiers do their morning prayers in a deployment area on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, on November 18, 2012 , in Israel. Israeli shelling of Gaza has entered its fifth day, with two media buildings being recently struck and several journalists injured. According to health officials in Gaza, at least 50 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched operation Pillar of Defence. So far three Israelis have died in the exchange of missiles which followed an air strike on Wednesday that killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 17: (ISRAEL OUT) Left wing Israeli activists demonstrate against the Israeli airstrike in Gaza on November 17, 2012 in Tel Aviv, Israel. At least 39 Palestinians and three Israeli's have died since conflict began four days ago. Israeli troops have been massing on the border as some 200 targets were hit overnight in Gaza, including Hamas cabinet buildings. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 17: (ISRAEL OUT) Left wing Israeli activists demonstrate against the Israeli airstrike in Gaza on November 17, 2012 in Tel Aviv, Israel. At least 39 Palestinians and three Israeli's have died since conflict began four days ago. Israeli troops have been massing on the border as some 200 targets were hit overnight in Gaza, including Hamas cabinet buildings. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 17: (ISRAEL OUT) Right wing activists wave the Israeli flag as left wing Israeli activists demonstrate against the Israeli airstrike in Gaza on November 17, 2012 in Tel Aviv, Israel. At least 39 Palestinians and three Israeli's have died since conflict began four days ago. Israeli troops have been massing on the border as some 200 targets were hit overnight in Gaza, including Hamas cabinet buildings. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 17: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli civilians watch by the Iron Dome defense system launch site on November 17, 2012 in Tel Aviv, Israel. At least 39 Palestinians and three Isreali's have died since conflict began four days ago. Israeli troops have been massing on the border as some 200 targets were hit overnight in Gaza, including Hamas cabinet buildings. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 17: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli civilians run for cover during a rocket attack launched from from Gaza on November 17, 2012 in Tel Aviv, Israel. At least 39 Palestinians and three Isreali's have died since conflict began four days ago. Israeli troops have been massing on the border as some 200 targets were hit overnight in Gaza, including Hamas cabinet buildings. (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
A member of the Abdel Aal family is rescued after his family house collapsed during an Israeli forces strike in the Tufah neighborhood, Gaza City, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. The Israeli military widened its range of targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday to include the media operations of the Palestinian territory's Hamas rulers, sending its aircraft to attack two buildings used by both Hamas and foreign media outlets. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
A Palestinian boy stands next to a destroyed car after an Israeli airstrike in the Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. The Israeli military widened its range of targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday to include the media operations of the Palestinian territory's Hamas rulers, sending its aircraft to attack two buildings used by both Hamas and foreign media outlets. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians inspect the rubble of a destroyed house after an Israeli airstrike next to a mosque, back, in the Jabaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. The Israeli military widened its range of targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday to include the media operations of the Palestinian territory's Hamas rulers, sending its aircraft to attack two buildings used by both Hamas and foreign media outlets. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Smoke rises during an explosion from an Israeli forces strike in Gaza City, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with nearly 200 airstrikes early Saturday, the military said, widening a blistering assault on Gaza rocket operations by militants to include the prime minister's headquarters, a police compound and a vast network of smuggling tunnels. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
An Israeli Iron Dome missile is launched near the city of Be'er Sheva, southern Israel, to intercept a rocket fired from Gaza Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with nearly 200 airstrikes early Saturday, the military said, widening a blistering assault on Gaza rocket operations to include the prime minister's headquarters, a police compound and a vast network of smuggling tunnels. (AP Photo/Ahikam Seri)
Smoke rises following an explosion after an Israeli forces strike in Gaza City, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with nearly 200 airstrikes early Saturday, the military said, widening a blistering assault on Gaza rocket operations by militants to include the prime minister's headquarters, a police compound and a vast network of smuggling tunnels. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
An injured Palestinian lies on the ground during a protest against the Israeli military operations in Gaza Strip near the West Bank city of Nablus, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)
Palestinian carry an injured youth during a protest against Israel's operations in Gaza Strip, outside Ofer, an Israeli military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A Palestinian tries to throw back tear gas canister during a protest against Israel's operations in Gaza Strip, outside Ofer, an Israeli military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
RAMALLAH, WEST BANK - NOVEMBER 18: In this handout image supplied by the office of the Palestinian president, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas conducts a meeting of the Palestinian leadership on November 18, 2012 in Ramallah, West Bank. Abbas has reportedly reached out to Arab and Western leaders for aid in the face of the heightening conflict between Israel and Gaza. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim /PPO via Getty Images)
OFAKIM, ISRAEL- NOVEMBER 18: (ISRAEL OUT) An Israeli emergency personnel inspects the damage to a car that was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip on November 18, 2012 in Ofakim, Israel. Israeli/Gaza attacks have entered the fifth day, with two media buildings being recently struck and several journalists subsequently injured. According to health officials in Gaza, at least 50 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched operation Pillar of Defence. So far three Israelis have died in the exchange of missiles which followed an air strike on Wednesday that killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
OFAKIM, ISRAEL- NOVEMBER 18: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis inspect the damage to a house that was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip on November 18, 2012 in Ofakim, Israel. Israeli/Gaza attacks have entered the fifth day, with two media buildings being recently struck and several journalists subsequently injured. According to health officials in Gaza, at least 50 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched operation Pillar of Defence. So far three Israelis have died in the exchange of missiles which followed an air strike on Wednesday that killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
OFAKIM, ISRAEL- NOVEMBER 18: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis inspect the damage to a house that was hit by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip on November 18, 2012 in Ofakim, Israel. Israeli/Gaza attacks have entered the fifth day, with two media buildings being recently struck and several journalists subsequently injured. According to health officials in Gaza, at least 50 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched operation Pillar of Defence. So far three Israelis have died in the exchange of missiles which followed an air strike on Wednesday that killed Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
A Palestinian woman sits in rubble following an Israeli air strike in Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. An Israeli envoy held talks with Egyptian officials Sunday on a ceasefire in his country's offensive on Gaza as Israel widened the range of its targets, striking more than a dozen homes of Hamas militants and two media officials. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
Israeli soldiers march in a gathering area near the Israel Gaza Strip border, in southern Israel, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. President Barack Obama on Sunday defended Israel's airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, but he warned that escalating the offensive with Israeli ground troops could deepen the death toll and undermine any hope of a peace process with the Palestinians. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Palestinians run away from a damaged building after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. Israel widened the range of targets in its Gaza offensive Sunday, striking more than a dozen homes of suspected Hamas militants and two media offices, according to security officials and witnesses. The attacks also damaged adjacent houses, killing seven civilians, including five children, health officials said. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A Hamas officer inspects an unexploded Israeli bomb in Gaza City, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. Israel bombarded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip with more than 180 airstrikes early Saturday, the military said, widening a blistering assault on militant operations to include the prime minister's headquarters, a police compound and a vast network of smuggling tunnels. The new attacks followed an unprecedented rocket strike aimed at the contested holy city of Jerusalem that raised the stakes in Israel's violent confrontation with Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Palestinians hurry away from a damaged building after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. Israel widened the range of targets in its Gaza offensive Sunday, striking more than a dozen homes of suspected Hamas militants and two media offices, according to security officials and witnesses. The attacks also damaged adjacent houses, killing seven civilians, including five children, health officials said. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A man stands in the window of a damaged house after a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza Strip landed in Ashkelon, southern Israel, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. Israel launched the operation last Wednesday by assassinating Hamas' military chief and carrying out dozens of airstrikes on rocket launchers and weapons storage sites. Over the weekend, the operation began to target Hamas government installations as well, including the offices of its prime minister and attacks on a major training base and the two media centers. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Palestinian Yoused Abu Khoussa, carries the body of his year-and-a-half old son Iyad, during his funeral in Bureij Refugee Camp, central Gaza Strip, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. The baby boy was one of five Palestinian children killed in Israeli strikes on Sunday, according to a Gaza health official.(AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A Palestinian boy holds a toy rifle during a protest against the Israeli offensive in Gaza, near the U.N. headquarters in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
Palestinians walk through the debris after an Israeli air strike on building in Gaza City, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. The Israeli military widened its range of targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday to include the media operations of the Palestinian territory's Hamas rulers, sending its aircraft to attack two buildings used by both Hamas and foreign media outlets. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Osama Abdel Aal is rescued after his family house collapsed during an Israeli forces strike in the Tufah neighborhood, Gaza City, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. The Israeli military widened its range of targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday to include the media operations of the Palestinian territory's Hamas rulers, sending its aircraft to attack two buildings used by both Hamas and foreign media outlets. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Osama Abdel Aal is rescued after his family house collapsed during an Israeli forces strike in the Tufah neighborhood, Gaza City, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. The Israeli military widened its range of targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday to include the media operations of the Palestinian territory's Hamas rulers, sending its aircraft to attack two buildings used by both Hamas and foreign media outlets. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
An Israeli soldier prays next to a tank along the Israel Gaza border in southern Israel, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. Israeli strikes hit two media centers in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, as Israel warned it was widening its range of targets to go after military commanders of the territory's Hamas rulers. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
A filmmaker has described how he nearly fell victim to the Israeli airstrikes which have rocked Gaza (AP)
Israeli soldiers gather in a staging ground near the border with Gaza Strip (AP)
Palestinian firefighters work at the scene of an Israeli air strike on a building in the Jebaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip (AP)
SDEROT, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 16: (ISRAEL OUT) Smoke plumes rise over Gaza following Israel Air Force bombing on November 16, 2012 near Sderot, Israel. Conflict between the Israeli military and Palestian miltants has intensified over the last few days, with Israel striking some 130 targets overnight. According to reports, 18 Palestians and three Israelis have been killed. Egypt's prime minister Hisham Qandil is due to make a brief visit to Gaza today and Israel have vowed to suspend fire for the duration of his visit, provided there's no cross border attacks from militants. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
Relatives and friends carry the body of Palestinian child Faris Basyoni during his funeral in Gaza. Relatives say he was killed after an Israeli airstrike hit his family house. (AP)
The car in which Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing, was killed in Gaza City (AP)
People carry the body of Ahmed Abu-Daqa, 11, during his funeral in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip (AP)
NETIVOT, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 14: (ISRAEL OUT) An Israeli woman sits inside a bomb shelter on November 14, 2012 in Netivot, Israel. Israel Defense Forces launched aerial attacks on targets in Gaza that killed the top military commander of Hamas, (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
NETIVOT, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 14: (ISRAEL OUT) An Israeli woman and children sit inside a bomb shelter on November 14, 2012 in Netivot, Israel. Israel Defense Forces launched aerial attacks on targets in Gaza that killed the top military commander of Hamas, (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
NETIVOT, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 14: (ISRAEL OUT) An Israeli woman and children sit inside a bomb shelter on November 14, 2012 in Netivot, Israel. Israel Defense Forces launched aerial attacks on targets in Gaza that killed the top military commander of Hamas, (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
NETIVOT, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 14: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli stand outside a bomb shelter on November 14, 2012 in Netivot, Israel. Israel Defense Forces launched aerial attacks on targets in Gaza that killed the top military commander of Hamas, (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
NETIVOT, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 14: (ISRAEL OUT )An Israeli man and child wait for a bus to leave town on November 14, 2012 in Netivot, Israel. Israel Defense Forces launched aerial attacks on targets in Gaza that killed the top military commander of Hamas, (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
NETIVOT, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 14: (ISRAEL OUT ) People wait for a bus to leave town on November 14, 2012 in Netivot, Israel. Israel Defense Forces launched aerial attacks on targets in Gaza that killed the top military commander of Hamas, (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
NETIVOT, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 14: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli children sit in a bomb shelter on November 14, 2012 in Netivot, Israel. Israel Defense Forces launched aerial attacks on targets in Gaza that killed the top military commander of Hamas, (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
NETIVOT, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 14: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis watch Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on TV in a bomb shelter on November 14, 2012 in Netivot, Israel. Israel Defense Forces launched aerial attacks on targets in Gaza that killed the top military commander of Hamas, (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
NETIVOT, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 14: (ISRAEL OUT )An Israeli man and child wait for a bus to leave town on November 14, 2012 in Netivot, Israel. Israel Defense Forces launched aerial attacks on targets in Gaza that killed the top military commander of Hamas, (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
NETIVOT, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 14: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli children play games at a bomb shelter on November 14, 2012 in Netivot, Israel. Israel Defense Forces launched aerial attacks on targets in Gaza that killed the top military commander of Hamas, (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
NETIVOT, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 14: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli children sit in a bomb shelter on November 14, 2012 in Netivot, Israel. Israel Defense Forces launched aerial attacks on targets in Gaza that killed the top military commander of Hamas, (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
NETIVOT, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 14: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis watch TV in a bomb shelter on November 14, 2012 in Netivot, Israel. Israel Defense Forces launched aerial attacks on targets in Gaza that killed the top military commander of Hamas, (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
NETIVOT, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 14: (ISRAEL OUT) Israeli children sit in a bomb shelter on November 14, 2012 in Netivot, Israel. Israel Defense Forces launched aerial attacks on targets in Gaza that killed the top military commander of Hamas, (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
NETIVOT, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 14: (ISRAEL OUT) Israelis watch TV in a bomb shelter on November 14, 2012 in Netivot, Israel. Israel Defense Forces launched aerial attacks on targets in Gaza that killed the top military commander of Hamas, (Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
People look at a wreckage of the car in which was killed Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Columns of smoke rise following an Israeli air strike on a house in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Palestinian witnesses say Israeli airstrikes have hit a series of targets across Gaza City, shortly after the assassination of the top Hamas commander. Hamas security officials say two Hamas training facilities were among the targets in the Wednesday afternoon bombings. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinian security forces wheel into a hospital the body of Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing, in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Columns of smoke rise following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Palestinian witnesses say Israeli airstrikes have hit a series of targets across Gaza City, shortly after the assassination of the top Hamas commander. Hamas security officials say two Hamas training facilities were among the targets in the Wednesday afternoon bombings. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
People gather around a wreckage of the car in which was killed Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
People look at a wreckage of the car in which was killed Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
People look at a wreckage of the car in which was killed Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
People look at a wreckage of the car in which was killed Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing in Gaza City, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. The Israeli military said its assassination of the Hamas military commander marks the beginning of an operation against Gaza militants. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
ISRAEL OUT - An Israeli man stands next to a car damaged by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli city of Beersheva. Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Ilan Assayag)
Image from aerial footage made available by the Israeli Defense Force Wednesday Nov. 14, 2012 shows the car of Hamas military chief, Ahmad Jabari, circled, moments before an airstrike hit. Israel killed the commander of the Hamas military wing in one of some 20 airstrikes on the Gaza Strip Wednesday, the heaviest barrage on the Palestinian territory in four years in retaliation for renewed rocket fire on southern Israel. (AP Photo/ IDF video via APTV)
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media at Hakirya a military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Israel's prime minister says the military is prepared to broaden its operation against Hamas targets in Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel cannot tolerate continued rocket attacks against its citizens. In his first comments since Israel killed the commander of the Hamas military wing, Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel is "prepared to expand the operation". (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
The car in which Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing, was killed in Gaza City (AP)
Smoke rises following an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip amid an increase in violence in the region (AP)
The car in which Ahmed Jabari, head of the Hamas military wing, was killed in Gaza City (AP)
Rockets fired by Palestinian militants at southern Israel leave a thin trail of white smoke, seen between buildings in Gaza City.(AP)
Palestinian mourners in Gaza carry the body of Hamas' top military commander Ahmed Jabari, killed in an Israeli strike (AP)
Palestinian mourners in Gaza carry the body of Hamas' top military commander Ahmed Jabari, killed in an Israeli strike (AP)

Gaza suffered its bloodiest day since Israel launched a military offensive in the Hamas-controlled enclave, with a sharp escalation in the ferocity of attacks from both sides amid frenzied last-minute diplomacy to try and forestall an Israeli ground assault.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed a “significant expansion” of Israel’s military onslaught, even as an Israeli envoy was reported to be travelling to Cairo for ceasefire talks with Egyptian mediators. Nabeel Sha’ath, a senior Fatah official, was dispatched to Gaza by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to intercede with the leaders of the rival Hamas group.



At least 24 Palestinians were killed by Israeli air and artillery attacks yesterday – raising the Palestinian death toll to 69 and marking the day as the bloodiest since Operation Pillar of Defence began last Wednesday with the assassination of the Hamas military chief, Ahmed al-Jabari. Israel said the commander of the Hamas rocket unit was among yesterday’s targets.



Eleven Palestinian civilians were reported killed when an Israeli missile levelled their home in Gaza City’s Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in an apparent strike against the home of a senior Hamas militant. The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency said that four women and four children from the same family were among the dead.



The Israel Foreign Press Association, meanwhile, lodged an official complaint with the Israeli army after six journalists were injured, one seriously, when Israeli missiles destroyed the offices and studio of two television stations linked to Hamas in Gaza City high-rises that also house Sky News Arabic and other international media bureaus.



Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Israel had bombed the Al-Quds bureau “because it had enraged the Zionists by its coverage” of Israel’s “crimes in Gaza.” Both pro-Hamas networks continued broadcasting from other locations, but their programmes were interrupted by messages from the Israeli army warning Gaza residents to stay away from Hamas installations and personnel.



At least four Israelis were injured as Palestinian groups unleashed repeated barrages of rockets at Beersheba, Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod throughout the day. There were several direct hits on homes and cars. One Grad rocket hit the roof of a four-storey apartment block in Ashkelon and drilled through to the second floor.



“The apartment was torn to pieces. It’s a miracle I am still alive,” 71-year-old father of nine Malai Molalem told The Independent, huddling in a bomb shelter as the hollow boom of falling rockets sounded again and again.



Hamas fired two long-range Fajr 5 missiles at Tel Aviv, 40 miles away, making four attempts in three days. They were both destroyed by the Iron Dome missile defence system.



Addressing the Israeli cabinet in Jerusalem, Mr Netanyahu said Israel had attacked more than 1,000 targets since Wednesday and was “achieving significant hits on weapons aimed at Israeli citizens, as well as on those who use these weapons and those who dispatch them.”



“The IDF is prepared for a significant expansion of its operations,” Mr Netanyahu warned as the cabinet approved the mobilisation of 75,000 troops. Roads were blocked as thousands of reservists and military transporters loaded with tanks and armoured cars rumbled southwards.



With rumours of an imminent ground offensive, other countries in the region moved to try and find a negotiated settlement.



In Cairo, President Mohammed Morsi was reported to be putting intense pressure on Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to agree to a ceasefire. Egyptian officials confirmed that an Israeli envoy had arrived in the city but radicals on both sides appeared to be digging in their heels.



Ziad Nakhleh, deputy leader of Islamic Jihad, told the Al Hayat daily it was time to teach Israel a lesson.



“We don’t fear them, the resistance is too strong and capable of confronting them,” said Mr Nakhleh. “We hit the belly of Israel. The prime minister and leaders of Israel were forced to go to shelters. Israel wants calm. Egypt wants it to stop the bloodshed. We also want to preserve our dignity as Palestinians. The siege on Gaza Strip should be lifted, the crossings should be opened, the Palestinians should be treated well. We will not accept a humiliating offer.”



In Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Israel sought “a long-term arrangement” and laid out strict conditions for any possible ceasefire.



“The first and absolute condition for a truce is stopping all fire from Gaza,” said Mr Liberman before meeting French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Sunday, adding that all militant factions would have to commit to cease rocket fire and there could be no further smuggling of weapons into Gaza.



In London, Foreign Secretary William Hague warned Israel that past experience proved it risked losing the support even of its closest allies if it embarked on a ground invasion.



His comments were echoed by President Obama, who told reporters Sunday that it would be “preferable” if Israel exercised its right to self-defence “without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza.”

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