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Israel continues to hammer Gaza Strip; over 100 dead

July 11, 2014 23:57 IST

Israel continues to hammer Gaza Strip; over 100 dead

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Israeli jets bombed the Gaza Strip for the fourth day on Friday killing 11 Palestinians, taking the death toll to 103, as the Jewish state was targeted for the first time by rocket attacks from Lebanon since the military offensive began.

Eleven Palestinians, including a woman and seven-year-old child, were killed as Israeli jets pounded targets in Gaza, escalating the conflict in which more than 500 people have been injured.

Friday’s deaths have brought the overall death toll to 103, medics said.

Even as the casualty in Gaza has been heavy, so far, no one in Israel has been killed, and less than a dozen people hurt, two of them seriously, medics said.

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Image: Smoke and flames are seen following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip July 11
Photographs: Abed Sha'at/Reuters

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US President Barack Obama telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as diplomatic efforts to end hostilities between Israel and Hamas militants gathered momentum.

"The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities," the White House said.

Netanyahu, however, said he would not end his campaign until his goal of stopping the Hamas attacks was achieved.

"No international pressure will prevent us from striking the terrorists who are attacking us," he told a news conference in Tel Aviv.

"I had a very good conversation with President Obama and other leaders," he said. "All of these leaders understand the need to act."

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Image: An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod July 11
Photographs: Amir Cohen/Reuters

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Israel continues to hammer Gaza Strip; over 100 dead

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Over 300 homes have been totally destroyed or severely damaged and around 2,000 Gazans have been made homeless, Palestinian media reported.

A rocket fired from Lebanon struck a gas station near Israel's northern border, the Israeli military said.

Lebanon's state-run news agency said two rockets were fired from the country. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the strikes, which prompted Israel to retaliate with artillery fire toward the source of the firing.

Israel military spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner said it was unclear whether the new front was "symbolic or something more substantial."

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Image: Palestinians look at the remains of a missile which witnesses said was fired by an Israeli aircraft on a street in Deir El-Balah in the central Gaza Strip July 11
Photographs: Ashraf Amrah/Reuters

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Israel continues to hammer Gaza Strip; over 100 dead

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Meanwhile, Hamas has warned airlines that it intends to target Israel's Ben-Gurion Airport with its rockets from Gaza and has told them not to fly there.

"In the light of Israel's ... attacks on the residents of Gaza Strip ... The armed wing of Hamas movement has decided to respond to the Israeli aggression and we warn you against carrying out flights to Ben-Gurion airport, which will be one of our targets today because it also hosts a military air base," the Jerusalem Post quoted Hamas' statement as saying.

"The vast majority of Israel's population is in the range of Hamas missiles, which have been fired so far at Israel's major cities Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa and many more.

Since July 7th to July 11th, 442 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza, aimed deliberately at Israeli civilian targets," an Israeli official said.

He said throughout the operation, Israel has made extensive efforts to avoid civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip, but Hamas fires rockets on civilian Israeli population from within civilian Palestinian populated areas. 

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Image: Smoke rises following what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip July 11
Photographs: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

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A concerned US President Barack Obama offered to broker a ceasefire with Hamas as he called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Reaffirming US' position that Israel has a right to defend itself and while condemning rocket attacks by Hamas and other Gaza-based militant groups, Obama told Netanyahu that he is prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities.

While it is still unclear as to what Netanyahu told the US President but on Thursday he had ruled out a ceasefire with Hamas in the short-term.

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Image: A Palestinian man looks at a house which police said was hit in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City July 11
Photographs: Mohammed Salem/Reuters

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On the contrary, the Israeli leader had vowed a series of "additional stages" to Operation Protective Edge, his government's response to continued rocket fire on Israeli towns and cities by Gaza militants.

A ceasefire is "not even on the agenda," Netanyahu told members of the influential Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, just hours before his call with Obama.

Israel has confirmed preparations for a possible ground assault, with tanks and artillery massed along the border and about 33,000 reservists mobilised. 


Image: A Palestinian woman reacts in front of her son's boat, which police say was damaged in a fire that started following an Israeli naval strike, at the seaport of Gaza City July 11
Photographs: Mohammed Salem/Reuters

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