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Israel has targeted Hamas sites in Gaza in retaliation for rocket strikes.

According to Israel’s military, it hit weapons sites on December 9. Two people were killed, a Gaza hospital said, bringing the deaths in Israeli strikes and gunfire over the past day to four.

On December 8, three rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza.

Israeli-Palestinian tensions have risen since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The December 6 decision reversed decades of US neutrality on the matter.

Israel has always regarded the city of Jerusalem as its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel in the 1967 war – as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Image source Flickr

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Israel’s air force followed a number of raids on Hamas sites on December 8 with more air strikes on December 9, targeting weapons manufacturing sites, a weapons warehouse and a military compound, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Gaza’s Shifa hospital said that two bodies of Palestinians were found under the rubble of a Hamas military site bombed by Israeli planes overnight, bringing the death toll in the past 24 hours to four, with 160 injuries. The two other fatalities came when Israeli troops fired on crowds in Gaza during clashes on December 8.

Of the three rockets fired at Israel, its military said it had intercepted one with its Iron Dome defense system, one was found on wasteland and another landed in Sderot on December 8. No casualties were reported.

On December 8, Fathi Hammad, a senior Hamas leader, said anyone seeking to move their embassy to Jerusalem was “an enemy of the Palestinians”.

Speaking before the UN on December 8, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the United States “recognizes the obvious; that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel”.


Nikki Haley said the US continued to be “committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement”, and accused the UN of bias, saying it “has outrageously been one of the world’s foremost centers of hostility towards Israel”.

Israel had deployed extra battalions to the West Bank in anticipation of violence after Palestinian leaders called for protests after Friday prayers.

At least 217 Palestinians were wounded in confrontations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestinian medics said.

On December 8, there were protests held elsewhere against President Trump’s announcement.

Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters held demonstrations in Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, Tunisia and Iran.

Further afield, protesters rallied in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indian-administered Kashmir and Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

Three senior Hamas military commanders have been killed by an Israeli airstrike on a house in Gaza, militants say.

Mohammed Abu Shamala, Mohammed Barhoum and Raed al-Attar died in the attack near the southern town of Rafah.

They were among at least six killed, a day after Hamas’s military chief Mohammed Deif reportedly survived a strike that killed his wife and child.

An Israeli was severely injured as rockets were fired into Israel on Thursday, the army said.

Hostilities resumed after peace talks collapsed on Tuesday.

Israel has vowed to pursue its campaign until “full security” is achieved.

Six weeks of fierce fighting have left at least 2,103 people dead, all but 67 of them Palestinians and most of them said to be civilians.

Hamas commanders Mohammed Abu Shamala, Mohammed Barhoum and Raed al-Attar died in an Israeli attack near the southern town of Rafah

Hamas commanders Mohammed Abu Shamala, Mohammed Barhoum and Raed al-Attar died in an Israeli attack near the southern town of Rafah

Israel’s strike on Rafah demolished a four-storey building and “dozens” of people were missing, Palestinian health official Ashraf Al-Kidra was quoted as saying by AP news agency.

The three commanders killed were key to operations including smuggling, tunnel construction and capturing the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.

Israel’s military said it had carried out 20 attacks on targets in Gaza during the night in response to militant rocket attacks. Since talks on extending the ceasefire failed, 213 rockets have been fired at Israel, it added.

According to an unconfirmed report by AFP news agency, at least six other Palestinians, four of them children, were killed in Israeli attacks overnight in the northern town of Beit Lahiya and in Gaza City.

In another development, Hamas warned foreign airline companies to stop flying to and from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport from Thursday.

Ofer Lefler, spokesman for the Israel Airports Authority (IAA), told AFP that flights had been disrupted for 10 minutes but there had been “no change to take-offs or landings”.

Hamas also confirmed it was abandoning efforts to negotiate a durable ceasefire with Israel.

It had gone to the talks in Cairo demanding an end to the Israeli and Egyptian blockades of Gaza, and the establishment of a seaport and airport.

Israel, for its part, had sought guarantees that Hamas and other factions in Gaza would be disarmed,

The UN Security Council voiced “grave concern” at the resumption of hostilities and “called upon the parties to resume negotiations to urgently reach a sustainable and lasting ceasefire”.

Egypt expressed “profound regret” at the end of a 10-day period of “calm” during the talks, and said it would continue to try to secure a lasting truce.

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A 72-hour ceasefire has come into effect between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, after a day of intense diplomacy.

It is hoped the latest truce, which came into effect at 21:00 GMT, will help negotiators agree a longer peace.

Egypt brokered a similar truce last week, but fighting resumed after the three-day window ended.

About 2,000 people have died in the conflict, which began on July 8 when Israel launched an operation to deter militant attacks from Gaza.

Israeli media were reporting warning sirens for rocket attacks right up to the new ceasefire deadline at midnight local time. Israeli air strikes also continued through Sunday evening.

A 72-hour ceasefire has come into effect between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, after a day of intense diplomacy

A 72-hour ceasefire has come into effect between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, after a day of intense diplomacy

However, an hour into the ceasefire there were no reports of attacks from either side.

After tense talks that both sides had threatened to abandon, the surprise announcement of the truce came late on Sunday.

Izzat al-Reshiq, a Hamas negotiator in Cairo, told Reuters news agency: “In light of Israel’s acceptance of the truce and their return without pre-conditions, we will inform the Egyptian brothers of our positive response.”

In a statement, Egypt’s foreign ministry urged both sides to resume indirect negotiations and “work towards a comprehensive and lasting ceasefire agreement”.

Correspondents say Israel is likely to continue to push for Gaza to be demilitarized, and Hamas will continue to demand the blockade of Gaza to be lifted.

However, an unidentified Hamas negotiator said their demands were likely to be “more modest” this time.

Since the last 72-hour truce ended on Friday, there has been regular exchange of fire.

Israeli air strikes have killed at least 20 Palestinians. Two Israelis were injured by mortars.

On the Israeli side, where dozens of communities have been evacuated, residents will also be able to return home.

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Israel has resumed air strikes in Gaza after Palestinian militants fired rockets following the end of a three-day truce on Friday morning.

The Israeli army called the renewed rocket attacks “unacceptable, intolerable and short-sighted”.

Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, earlier rejected any extension of the truce, saying Israel had failed to meet its demands.

Some 1,940 lives have been claimed in four weeks of fighting in Gaza.

Israel has resumed air strikes in Gaza after Palestinian militants fired rockets following the end of a three-day truce

Israel has resumed air strikes in Gaza after Palestinian militants fired rockets following the end of a three-day truce (photo PressTV)

At least 1,890 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died, according to latest United Nations figures.

Israel’s government says 64 soldiers have been killed, along with two Israeli civilians and a Thai national. It also claims that about 900 Palestinian militants have died in the violence.

Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 with the stated aim of halting rocket fire from militants in Gaza and destroying the network of tunnels it said were used by militants to launch attacks inside Israel.

On Friday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it was striking “terror sites across the Gaza Strip” in response to renewed rocket attacks on Israeli cities.

Palestinian militants began firing missiles from Gaza shortly before the ceasefire ended at 08:00 local time.

The violence resumed after Egyptian-brokered talks between Israel and Palestinian factions hit a deadlock.

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The US – Israel’s closest ally – has said the shelling of a UN shelter in Gaza is “totally unacceptable and totally indefensible”.

In its strongest criticism yet of Israel’s offensive in the Palestinian territory, the US urged Israel to do more to protect civilian life.

A quarter of Gaza’s population has been displaced by the fighting, the UN says.

Israel says its operation in Gaza is designed to defend its population from attacks by Palestinian militants.

It blames the Hamas militant group for most of the civilian deaths in Gaza, saying its fighters deliberately operate from civilian areas.

The Israeli army has now “neutralized” 70-80% of Hamas’ offensive tunnel network into Israel.

In its strongest criticism yet of Israel's offensive in the Palestinian territory, the US urged Israel to do more to protect civilian life

In its strongest criticism yet of Israel’s offensive in the Palestinian territory, the US urged Israel to do more to protect civilian life

Israel says it will not stop its operation in Gaza until all the tunnels – which militants use to infiltrate Israeli territory – have been destroyed.

Since Israel began its offensive in Gaza on July 8, 1,422 Palestinians have been killed and 8,265 injured, most of them civilians, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

This means more Palestinians have now been killed than during Operation Cast Lead – the last time Israel launched a ground invasion in Gaza – in 2008-2009.

Fifty-eight Israelis have been killed in total – 56 soldiers and two civilians. A Thai worker in Israel has also died.

“There is a difference in approach between what Hamas is perpetrating on the Israeli people and what Israel is doing to defend their country,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

“But the shelling of a UN facility that is housing innocent civilians who are fleeing violence is totally unacceptable and totally indefensible, and it is clear that we need our allies in Israel to do more to live up to high standards that they have set for themselves.”

He was referring to an incident on Wednesday, when at least 16 people were killed when shellfire hit a UN-run school designated as a civilian shelter in the Jabaliya district of Gaza City.

Josh Earnest said there was little doubt that the shells were fired by the Israeli military.

The UN has also condemned the continuing violence.

“The reality of Gaza today is that no place is safe,” UN humanitarian chief Baroness Valerie Amos told the Security Council.

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The United Nations Security Council has called for an “immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza Strip.

An emergency session backed a statement calling for a truce over the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr “and beyond”.

Both the Palestinian and Israeli envoys to the UN criticized the statement, for different reasons.

Gaza had its quietest night in weeks after a weekend punctuated by brief truce initiatives offered by both Israel and Hamas.

More than 1,030 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 43 Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians have been killed. A Thai national in Israel has also died.

The UN Security Council has called for an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

The UN Security Council has called for an immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

The Gaza health ministry on Sunday revised the number of Palestinian dead down by 30 after some relatives found missing family members.

Israel’s military reported a new rocket attack on Monday morning, saying it had hit an open area in southern Israel. It fired back, in its first reported military action since late on Sunday evening.

The UN Security Council endorsed a statement from Rwanda, the current president of the council, calling for a “durable” truce based on an Egyptian initiative – under which a pause in hostilities would lead to substantive talks on the future of Gaza, including the opening of Gaza’s border crossings.

The statement also emphasized that “civilian and humanitarian facilities, including those of the UN, must be respected and protected”.

It further stressed the need for “immediate provision of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip”.

The Palestinian representative at the UN, Riyad Mansour, said the statement did not go far enough and that a formal resolution was needed demanding that Israel withdraw its forces from Gaza.

“They should have adopted a resolution a long time ago to condemn this aggression and to call for this aggression to be stopped immediately,” he said.

Speaking for Israel, Ron Prosor accused the Security Council statement of bias.

“Miraculously it doesn’t mention Hamas,” the Israeli envoy said.

“It doesn’t mention the firing of rockets. Those things are lacking in this statement.”

Opinion polls published at the weekend suggest there is still widespread support among Israelis for the military operation.

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European and US airlines have suspended flights into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport after a rocket landed one mile away.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered three US carriers that fly to Israel – Delta, United and US Airways – to halt flights for 24 hours.

European carriers Lufthansa, KLM, and Air France have also cancelled flights to Tel Aviv.

The move comes amid heightened scrutiny over flights near conflict zones.

Israel’s Transportation Ministry asked the airlines to reverse their decision, saying the airport was “safe for landings and departures”.

“Ben Gurion Airport is safe and completely guarded and there is no reason whatsoever that American companies would stop their flights and hand terror a prize,” it said in a statement.

The FAA ordered three US carriers to halt Israel flights for 24 hours

The FAA ordered three US carriers to halt Israel flights for 24 hours

The FAA’s prohibition only applies to US airlines. The agency has no authority over foreign airlines operating to or from the airport.

However, Lufthansa – which includes Swiss, Germanwings and Austrian Airlines – said it had decided to suspend flights to Israel for two days.

Air France and KLM also said they had suspended flights scheduled to depart on Tuesday.

However, Air France said a flight scheduled for Wednesday is still scheduled to depart.

Delta said a flight from New York City to Tel Aviv was diverted to Paris on Tuesday after Israeli police confirmed that a rocket landed approximately one mile from Ben Gurion airport.

Both and United said they had suspended operations in Israel for the near future – beyond the FAA’s 24-hr period.

US Airways said it had not yet made a decision.

British Airways wrote on Twitter: “We are closely monitoring the situation. Our flights are currently operating as scheduled.”

The halt in service comes less than a week after Israel began a ground operation in Gaza, and as airlines around the world re-think their flight paths over conflict areas in the wake of the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine.

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Israel’s army has begun a ground offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, stepping up its 11-day-old military operation.

Troops and tanks were sent into Gaza to deal “a significant blow to Hamas”, Israel said.

A Hamas spokesman said Israel would “pay a high price” for its actions.

Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the invasion after days of intensive rocket fire and air strikes between the two sides.

Gaza’s health ministry said 11 Palestinians had been killed since the ground offensive began on Thursday night.

A five-month-old child was among the dead, Palestinian medics told AFP news agency. Israel said it had killed 14 “terrorists” overnight.

Israel meanwhile suffered its first military fatality, with the death of a soldier during the invasion, it said.

Some 258 Palestinians – three-quarters of them civilians – have died since the start of the wider Israeli operation on July 8, officials in Gaza say.

An Israeli civilian was killed from mortar fire, and several Israelis have been seriously injured, Israeli medics say.

Israel’s army has begun a ground offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip

Israel’s army has begun a ground offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip

Announcing the ground offensive, the Israeli military said: “Following 10 days of Hamas attacks by land, air and sea, and after repeated rejections of offers to de-escalate the situation, the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] has initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip.”

It said the goal was to “establish a reality in which Israeli residents can live in safety and security without continuous indiscriminate terror, while striking a significant blow to Hamas’ terror infrastructure”.

In Gaza City overnight, plumes of black smoke could be seen from the border area where Israeli troops were operating, AP news agency reported.

Israel said the initial phase was aimed at targeting tunnels Hamas has dug under the border with Israel to use in attacks.

On Wednesday 13 militants infiltrated into Israel through a tunnel aiming to attack a kibbutz, Israeli officials said. The Israeli military said it killed at least one of the militants, while the others are retreated through the tunnel.

Reuters news agency said Palestinians reported heavy clashes along the length of the eastern border, as well as in the northern towns of Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya.

Military spokesman Gen. Moti Almoz warned residents of Gaza to evacuate areas in which the army was operating.

“This operation will be extended as much as necessary,” he said.

Israel approved the drafting of 18,000 more reservists on Thursday evening, bringing the total of extra troops called up since July 8 to 65,000.

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal said that the Israeli ground operation was “destined to failure”.

“What the occupier Israel failed to achieve through its air and sea raids, it will not be able to achieve with a ground offensive,” he said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the ground operation would lead to “more bloodshed” and called on Israel to stop.

Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah party recently agreed to a unity government with Hamas, was meeting Egyptian officials in Cairo amid efforts to negotiate a truce.

Israel says it has carried out more than 1,960 attacks on Gaza since July 9, while militants have fired some 1,380 rockets at Israel. It says more than 50 rockets have been fired at Israel since the ground operation began.

The UN says at least 1,370 homes have been destroyed in Gaza and more than 18,000 people displaced in recent hostilities.

The ground offensive follows attempts in Cairo to negotiate a new ceasefire.

There was a temporary ceasefire on Thursday to allow Palestinians to stock up on supplies and aid workers to distribute water, food and hygiene kits.

The truce lasted for five hours, although both sides reported violations.

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Israel has announced it will observe a “humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza on July 17, after days of deadly rocket and missile exchanges with militants.

A statement from the Israeli military said it would hold fire on Thursday, from 10:00 to 15:00, to allow residents to stock up on supplies.

Palestinian officials say Israeli raids have killed 220 Gazans and wounded almost 1,800 since July 8.

Hamas militants have fired more than 1,200 rockets, killing one Israeli.

The ceasefire had been requested by the UN and other international organizations.

Israel has agreed to 5-hour ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza

Israel has agreed to 5-hour ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza

But the statement by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) added that Israel would respond “firmly and decisively” should the humanitarian window be used by militants “for the purpose of launching attacks against Israeli civilian or military targets”.

The move was announced hours after Hamas, the dominant force in Gaza, confirmed that it had rejected an earlier ceasefire proposed by Egypt.

Israel initially observed the ceasefire on Tuesday, but resumed its strikes amid continued rocket fire from Gaza.

Four children were among those killed in Israeli strikes on Wednesday. They died while playing on a beach near Gaza City.

The IDF said they were “carefully investigating” the incident, adding that “based on preliminary results, the target of this strike was Hamas terrorist operatives”.

“The reported civilian causalities from this strike are a tragic outcome,” the statement said.

Israel launched its Operation Protective Edge on July 8. Its stated objective is to halt Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel, but the UN says most of those killed in Gaza have been civilians.

Gaza militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel on Wednesday.

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told reporters that the group did not accept Egypt’s ceasefire proposal and that Israel would pay a heavy price for its strikes.

Hamas – designated a terrorist organization by Israel and the US, among others – is demanding the easing of border closures in Gaza and the release of Hamas prisoners.

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According to the United Nations, thousands of Palestinians are fleeing northern parts of Gaza after Israel warned it was targeting the area in its campaign to stop rocket attacks.

The UN says 17,000 people have sought refuge in its facilities as Israeli air strikes continue for a sixth day.

Thousands of Palestinians are fleeing northern parts of Gaza after Israel warned it was targeting the area in its campaign to stop rocket attacks

Thousands of Palestinians are fleeing northern parts of Gaza after Israel warned it was targeting the area in its campaign to stop rocket attacks

Israeli forces have raided a suspected rocket-launching site in Gaza in their first reported ground incursion.

At least 159 Palestinians have been killed since Israel’s offensive began, according to health officials in Gaza.

The dead are said to include 17 members of one family who died in an Israeli missile strike on Saturday evening.

Israel says it is targeting Hamas militants and “terror sites”, including the homes of senior operatives. However, the United Nations has estimated that 77% of the people killed in Gaza have been civilians.

The UN Security Council called for a ceasefire and peace talks on Saturday.

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Israel’s overnight air strikes hit Gaza’s security headquarters and police stations, in the heaviest bombardment since operations began on July 8.

Israel also said its troops had carried out a brief raid against a rocket-launching site in the coastal territory.

It added that Palestinian militants fired about 90 rockets from the Gaza Strip into its territory on Saturday.

At least 159 Palestinians have died in the air strikes, Gaza officials say.

They are said to include 17 members of one family who died in an Israeli missile strike on Saturday evening.

Israel says it is targeting Hamas militants and facilities, including the homes of senior operatives. However, the UN has estimated that 77% of the people killed in Gaza have been civilians.

Israel’s overnight air strikes hit Gaza's security headquarters and police stations, in the heaviest bombardment since operations began on July 8

Israel’s overnight air strikes hit Gaza’s security headquarters and police stations, in the heaviest bombardment since operations began on July 8

The UN Security Council called for a ceasefire and peace talks on Saturday. It is the first time since Israel’s offensive began that they have issued a statement, with members previously divided on their response.

Early on Sunday, Israeli air strikes destroyed most of the security headquarters and police stations run by Hamas Islamist militants.

The homes adjacent to the security compound suffered extensive damage, as the headquarters are located in the densely populated neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa in south Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said troops also raided a site used to fire long-range rockets at Israel.

“The mission was accomplished,” the IDF wrote on its official Twitter account.

It added: “During the mission, there was an exchange of fire. Four soldiers were lightly injured and all returned home safely.”

It is believed to be the first time Israeli troops – thought to be naval commandos on this occasion – have entered Gaza since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, which it says is aimed at stopping rocket attacks and destroying Hamas’ capabilities.

The IDF said it was dropping leaflets over the city of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, warning residents to seek shelter from planned air strikes later on Sunday.

“We do not wish to harm civilians in Gaza, but these civilians must know that remaining in close proximity to Hamas terrorists and infrastructures is extremely unsafe,” the IDF said.

The IDF says it has so far struck some 1,320 “terror” sites across Gaza, while Hamas have launched more than 800 rockets at Israel.

Israel’s Iron Dome missile shield intercepted four rockets on Sunday morning above central and southern Israel, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports.

At least five Israelis have been injured this week by rocket and missile attacks, two of them seriously, but no Israelis have been killed by the attacks.

On Saturday evening, four Israeli missiles hit a three-storey house in Gaza belonging to police chief Tayseer al-Batsh, a Gaza health official said.

The strike killed 17 members of the same family, while Tayseer al-Batsh was wounded but survived, officials added.

A witness said: “We were praying in a mosque adjacent to the targeted house and suddenly we heard a huge explosion followed by another explosion.”

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri described the raid as “a heinous crime”, adding: “Israel will pay a heavy price for its aggression against the Palestinian people.”

Palestinian sources say more than 1,000 people have been injured since Israel began its operation six days ago.

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According to Palestinian sources, the death toll from Israeli air strikes on Gaza has risen to 100.

The latest deaths were of two people in a car in the Bureij area on Friday, they said.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes since launching its operation on Tuesday to stop rocket fire from Gaza. Militants there continue to fire on Israel, causing damage and injuries.

The US earlier offered to help with a truce in a call to Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

Egypt and Turkey have both criticized Israel’s use of force.

The Palestinian health ministry says in addition to those killed, 675 people – mainly civilians – have been injured in Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes since launching its operation to stop rocket fire from Gaza

Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes since launching its operation to stop rocket fire from Gaza

Israel says “dozens of terrorists” are among the dead.

Overnight in Gaza, an Israeli air strike on a house in Rafah killed five people – three men and two women – the health ministry said.

A second strike, it added, killed a girl in Rafah, while one militant was killed when his motorcycle was hit north of Gaza City.

In Israel, one person was seriously injured when a rocket hit a petrol station in Ashdod on Friday morning, Israeli officials say.

Three rockets were also shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system over Tel Aviv, the Israeli military said.

Lebanon’s military also confirmed that militants in the south of the country had fired three rockets into northern Israel in the early hours of Friday and that Israel had shelled the area in response. No injuries were reported.

One Israeli soldier was injured by mortar fire in Eshkol on Thursday.

In his telephone conversation with PM Benjamin Netanyahu, President Barack Obama said: “The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement.”

Condemning rocket fire by Hamas, Barack Obama also “expressed concern about the risk of further escalation and emphasized the need for all sides to do everything they can to protect the lives of civilians and restore calm”.

Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair said on Friday it was necessary to tackle the “longer-term questions at the heart of this violence and conflict”.

“Without that long-term solution in place I think it’s going to be very difficult to create any short-term peace,” he said.

Some 20,000 Israeli army reservists have been mobilized amid speculation of a ground offensive into Gaza.

Israel says its targets in Gaza have been militant fighters and facilities, but the Palestinian health ministry says many women and children have been killed.

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Israel has started to free a group of Palestinian prisoners, whose release was agreed as part of the deal that allowed peace talks to resume.

A group of 26 prisoners, all convicted of attacks that happened before 1993, were driven out of a jail in minibuses with tinted windows.

Some are being taken straight to Gaza, others are going to the West Bank.

Israelis outraged over Palestinian prisoner release

Israelis outraged over Palestinian prisoner release

Palestinian and Israeli negotiators began direct talks two weeks ago for the first time in three years.

Another round of talks is due to begin in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Israel agreed to release the 26 long-term prisoners as the first of 104 Palestinian and Israeli Arab inmates to be freed over the next few months.

Relatives and friends of the freed prisoners have gathered on the frontier with Gaza.

The inmates were named by Israel’s prison service shortly after midnight on Sunday, giving victims’ families 48 hours to submit legal challenges to the High Court.

Earlier on Tuesday, the court rejected an appeal by a victims’ rights group that objected to the release of all of the prisoners.

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Hundreds of thousands of supporters of Palestinian Fatah faction, led by Mahmoud Abbas, are holding celebrations in Gaza to mark its 48th anniversary.

The rival Hamas movement, which governs Gaza, allowed Fatah to hold its first mass rally there since Hamas ousted Fatah’s forces five years ago.

Last month, supporters of Hamas celebrated their movement’s founding with a rare rally in the West Bank.

The moves are part of measures to heal a deep rift between the two sides.

Hamas came to power in Gaza after winning Palestinian elections in 2006 and ousting Fatah from the coastal enclave in clashes the following year.

In a pre-recorded message played on giant screens, President Mahmoud Abbas said: “Victory is near and we will meet you in Gaza in the near future,” AFP news agency reported.

“Gaza was the first Palestinian territory rid of [Israeli] occupation and settlement and we want a lifting of the blockade so that it can be free and linked to the rest of the nation,” he said from his West Bank power-base.

Huge crowds, carrying the yellow flags of the Fatah movement and pictures of Mahmoud Abbas, streamed into Gaza City, the climax to a week of smaller celebrations across the strip marking Fatah’s first attack against Israel.

Hundreds of thousands of supporters of Palestinian Fatah faction, led by Mahmoud Abbas, are holding celebrations in Gaza to mark its 48th anniversary

Hundreds of thousands of supporters of Palestinian Fatah faction, led by Mahmoud Abbas, are holding celebrations in Gaza to mark its 48th anniversary

Fatah officials said half a million supporters turned out. Hamas put the figure at 200,000.

“The message today is that Fatah cannot be wiped out,” Amal Hamad, a member of the group’s ruling body, told Reuters news agency.

“Fatah lives, no-one can exclude it and it seeks to end the division.”

Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo in 2011, but it has not been implemented.

In a speech during a visit to Gaza last month, Khaled Meshaal urged “reconciliation and national unity of the Palestinian ranks”.

“Palestine is for all of us, we are partners in this nation. Hamas cannot do without Fatah or Fatah without Hamas, or any movement,” he said.

Hamas, an Islamist movement, and the secular Fatah, fundamentally disagree in their approach towards Israel. Hamas has refused to renounce violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist or accept peace accords between the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority and Israel.

Relations between Fatah and Hamas collapsed in June 2007 when Mahmoud Abbas ordered the dissolution of the Hamas-led unity government amid deadly clashes between the factions in Gaza. Hamas subsequently routed Fatah forces in Gaza and set up a rival government there.

Hamas-Fatah split

  • January 2006: Hamas wins Palestinian elections
  • March 2007: Hamas-led unity government formed
  • June 2007: Hamas-Fatah clashes erupt in Gaza; PA President Abbas dissolves government; Hamas ousts Fatah from Gaza
  • May 2011: Hamas and Fatah sign reconciliation accord

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An Israeli strike on a home in Gaza has killed at least 10 people, officials say, as Sunday became the deadliest day since Israel launched an operation against Hamas militants this week.

The strike targeted a Hamas official and that a number of children were killed.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is ready to expand its operation.

Gaza militants continue to fire rockets at Israel, with injuries reported in towns including Ashkelon and Ofakim.

Sources on both sides say attempts to reach a ceasefire are continuing.

At least 21 people are reported to have been killed in Gaza by Israeli bombardments so far on Sunday. Of the total, at least nine were children and at least four were women, Gaza health officials said.

This brings the death toll in Gaza since Israel launched its Operation Pillar of Defence on Wednesday to 67, the officials said.

Three Israelis were killed on Thursday.

Diggers were trying to scoop rubble from flattened buildings and with rescuers frantically trying to find survivors.

The man targeted was Mohamed Dalou. Hamas said eight members of his family also died, including a number of children, along with two other people.

Hamas’s military wing later said in a statement: “The massacre of the Dalou family will not pass without punishment.”

The casualties were taken to Shifa hospital, where earlier our correspondent had seen injured children brought in, one covered in blood.

The hospital went from organized calm to frantic chaos as doctors tried to dress wounds. One nurse broke down in a corner and colleagues tried to comfort her.

Seven homes belonging to Hamas officials have been targeted by Israeli strikes on Sunday.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that 76 missiles fired from Gaza had hit Israel on Sunday, while 37 were intercepted by its Iron Dome missile defence system, including at least one over Tel Aviv.

The Israeli ambulance service reported two people were seriously injured, with 10 moderately or lightly hurt.

Israel’s state radio reported that a volley of 10 rockets had been fired at Ashdod, with three falling in a residential area and seven people treated for shock.

One rocket from Gaza made a direct hit on a residential building in Ashkelon, causing injuries and damage.

Another rocket hit a car in Ofakim, causing injuries, the IDF said.

Israel’s attacks on Gaza had been stepped up again at about 02:00 a.m.

Israeli media reported that the head of Hamas’s rocket-launching unit, Yehiya Bia, had been killed in a strike.

Two media buildings were struck in Gaza City, injuring eight Palestinian journalists, one of whom had to have a leg amputated.

Among those using the buildings were a Hamas television channel, al-Quds TV, as well as Sky News and ITN.

The World Health Organization says hospitals in Gaza are now overwhelmed with casualties and short on supplies.

Palestinian officials say a number of people are still missing under rubble and the total of injured since Wednesday is now 560.

Steps are continuing to try to reach a ceasefire.

Egyptian security officials said a senior Israeli official had arrived in Cairo for talks but Israel has made no comment.

President Barack Obama, speaking on Sunday, said Washington was “fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself”.

Benjamin Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting on Sunday that Israeli soldiers were ready “for any activity that could take place”.

“We are exacting a heavy price from Hamas and the terrorist organizations and the Israel Defense Forces are prepared for a significant expansion of the operation,” he said.

Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi has said an Israeli ground invasion will have “serious repercussions”, saying Egypt would never accept it “and neither will the free world”.

The Arab League, which met in emergency session in Cairo, is sending a delegation of foreign ministers to Gaza on Tuesday.

Before the recent offensive, Israel had repeatedly carried out air strikes on Gaza as Palestinian militants fired rockets across the border.

But the aerial and naval bombardment is its most intense assault on the coastal territory since Israel launched a full-scale invasion four years ago.

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Egypt has promised to support Gaza against Israeli attacks, as violence escalated for a third day.

President Mohammed Mursi said he would not leave Gaza on its own and condemned Israel’s “blatant aggression”, hours after his prime minister visited Gaza.

Israel mounted a huge attack overnight, targeting dozens of locations. Later, Gaza militants targeted Tel Aviv with a missile but there were no casualties.

Twenty Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed since Wednesday.

Militants and civilians, including at least five children, were among the Palestinian dead, Palestinian officials said.

Two Israeli women and a man died when a rocket fired from Gaza hit a building in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi on Thursday, Israeli officials said.

The Israeli army began an initial draft of 16,000 reservists on Friday, after the government authorized the call-up of 30,000.

Rumors have been swirling that a ground attack is imminent, but Israeli officials have said no decision has yet been made.

Israel targeted more than 130 locations in an overnight assault it said was aimed at knocking out rocket-firing facilities.

Egypt has promised to support Gaza against Israeli attacks, as violence escalated for a third day

Egypt has promised to support Gaza against Israeli attacks, as violence escalated for a third day

Sporadic Israeli air strikes have continued throughout Friday, and militants in Gaza have fired dozens of rockets.

Mohammed Mursi sent Prime Minister Hisham Qandil to the territory for a three-hour visit on Friday to show solidarity with the Palestinians.

“Egypt will not leave Gaza on its own, and what is happening is a blatant aggression against humanity,” the president said shortly after Hisham Qandil returned from Gaza.

Ties between Hamas and Egypt have strengthened since Mohammed Mursi’s election earlier this year.

Hamas was formed as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, to which Mohammed Mursi belongs.

Meanwhile, the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, some 75 km (45 miles) north of Gaza, came under attack for a second day.

A missile launched from Gaza sparked panic in the city and air-raid sirens once again sounded.

The missile appears to have done no harm, with police officials quoted variously as saying it had landed in the sea or in an unpopulated area.

It is the first time Tel Aviv has come under attack since the 1991 Gulf War.

Analysts say it is the first time Gaza militants have deployed such powerful missiles.

Western leaders have appealed for both sides to stop the escalation in violence.

Britain and Germany both said Hamas bears the brunt of the blame and should stop firing rockets immediately.

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Fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza appears to have calmed after an unofficial truce was reached following days of violence.

Israel said a mortar shell landed in the south of the country on Thursday after no reports of exchanges fighting.

Five Israelis have been wounded since Tuesday amid some of the heaviest barrage of rocket and mortar fire from Gaza in months.

Six Palestinian militants were killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza.

Schools were closed on both sides of the border for fear of more attacks, though some reopened in parts of southern Israel on Thursday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to strike hard at the militants if attacks continued.

“We didn’t ask for this escalation and didn’t initiate it,” he said on Wednesday.

“But if it continues, we are prepared to embark on a far more extensive and penetrating operation.”

If previous ceasefires are anything to go by, there may well be breaches by both sides before calm is fully restored.

Hamas will have to stop other armed groups in Gaza from launching attacks, and the underlying conflict between Palestinian militants and Israel remains; any truce is unlikely to be permanent.

On Wednesday, more than 70 rockets were launched into southern Israel, injuring four people, two critically, according to the Israeli military.

In response, Israeli aircraft and tanks targeted rocket-launching sites in northern Gaza.

Hamas’s military wing, the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, confirmed it had been involved in firing dozens of rockets and mortars into Israel.

In a statement, the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades and a smaller Gaza-based militant group, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), said: “These holy missions come in response to the repeated, continuous crimes of the enemy against our people.”

The violence comes during a visit to the region by the EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, to try to revive the stalled Middle East peace process.

Catherine Ashton is due to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad on Thursday, a day after holding talks with Israeli leaders.

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