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Israel continues deadly Gaza bombardment

Nov. 18, 2012 9:25 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 19, 2012 5:10 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces continued to bombard the Gaza Strip on Sunday evening after the bloodiest day in Gaza since the last war, Operation Cast Lead.

Thirty Palestinians were killed in airstrikes on Sunday, including 14 women and children.

Eight-year-old Hussein Jalal Nasr was killed in a strike on a house near Abu Sharkh Square in northern Gaza City. Israel bombed a home in Rafah, killing Sabha Mahawish al-Hashash, 60, and injuring a man and a baby girl.

Two people were killed in another strike on Rafah, in the Miraj neighborhood. Medics identified one of the victims as 20-year-old Mahmoud Sami Shaath.

Earlier Sunday evening Israel bombed the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City, killing two men, and earlier hit the al-Safina building in the city killing one man on Sunday evening,

The al-Karama Hospital in Gaza City sustained extensive damage from a nearby airstrike and the Hijazy clinic, also in Gaza City was hit.

Israeli F-16 fighter jets fired four missiles leveling the home of Hamas' military leader Nafith Sbeih in al-Daraj neighborhood of Gaza City. An unmanned Israeli drone had fired two missiles at the same house earlier Sunday.

Israeli fighter jets also fired missiles at home of al-Qassam Brigades leader Marwan Issa in the central Gaza Strip

Some 79 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched Operation Pillar of Cloud on Wednesday, after assassinating Hamas military commander Ahmad al-Jaabari.

Women, children killed at home

Eleven Palestinians, including four women and four children, were killed when an Israeli missile destroyed the al-Dalou family home in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City on Sunday afternoon.

Israel's chief military spokesman said Yihia Abayah, a senior commander of rocket operations in the Gaza Strip, had been the target.

The spokesman, Yoav Mordechai, told Israel's Channel 2 television he did not know whether Abayah was killed, "but the outcome was that there were civilian casualties."

He made no direct mention of the destroyed dwelling.

Hamas' military wing vowed to respond to what it said was a massacre, and fired a Fajr missile at Tel Aviv. Israel said the missile was intercepted by its Iron Dome defense shield.

The al-Qassam Brigades said its fighters had also shelled Israeli military bases and an Israeli war ship in response to the attack on the al-Dalou family.

Also Sunday, two men were killed while performing evening prayers in Nuseirat refugee camp, and another two men were killed in separate strikes on the Shujaiyya neighborhood of Gaza City.

Israel also hit al-Maghazl, al-Buriej and al-Shati refugee camps, killing three including a 9-year-old girl and an 18-month-old boy.

In northern Gaza, two toddlers and a 52-year-old woman were among those killed. A man and his teenage son were hit by a missile while driving their water tanker to deliver water. One man was killed in southern Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he assured world leaders that Israel was doing its utmost to avoid causing civilian casualties in Gaza.

In scenes recalling Israel's 2008-2009 winter invasion of Gaza, tanks, artillery and infantry massed in field encampments along the sandy, fenced-off border. Military convoys moved on roads in the area newly closed to civilian traffic.

The Israeli military said 544 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israel since Wednesday, killing three civilians and wounding dozens. Some 302 were intercepted and 99 failed to reach Israel and landed inside the Gaza Strip, it added.

Obama cautions against ground invasion

At a news conference during a visit to the Thai capital Bangkok, US President Barack Obama said Israel had "every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory".

He added: "If this can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza that is preferable. That's not just preferable for the people of Gaza, it's also preferable for Israelis because if Israeli troops are in Gaza they're much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded," he said.

Obama said he had been in regular contact with Egyptian and Turkish leaders -- to secure their mediation in bringing about a halt to rocket barrages by Hamas and other Islamist militants.

"We're going to have to see what kind of progress we can make in the next 24, 36, 48 hours," he added.

Israeli officials declined to confirm or deny reports that an Israeli negotiator had flown to Cairo to discuss a ceasefire.

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi said in Cairo, as his security deputies sought to broker a truce with Hamas leaders, that "there are some indications that there is a possibility of a ceasefire soon, but we do not yet have firm guarantees".

Silvan Shalom, one of Netanyahu's deputies, said: "There are contacts, but they are currently far from being concluded."

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