Belfast Telegraph

Fighting continues in Gaza as death toll passes 550

Fierce fighting is being reported in the Gaza Strip as Israel continues to ignore international calls for an end to its assault on the Palestinian territory.

More than 550 Palestinians have been killed during the 11-day offensive, many of them civilians.

Israel is vowing to continue the attack until Palestinian militants are no longer capable of launching rockets at Israeli towns.

Hamas, meanwhile, has pledged to fight on in "every street and alley" until Israel ends the assault.

The Israeli military says three of its soldiers were killed last night and 24 others injured when an errant tank shell hit their position near Gaza City.

Five Palestinian civilians, meanwhile, were killed when an Israeli shell hit their house near the Gaza shoreline, while three young brothers were also killed in an Israeli attack near Gaza City.

The majority of the international community is demanding that Israel end the violence immediately, but the United States - the only country with any real influence over the Israelis - is refusing to back the calls.

It says it will only support a ceasefire that includes an end to Palestinian rocket attacks and measures to prevent tunnels from being used to smuggle goods from Egypt to Gaza.

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