GAZA/JERUSALEM — Israel bombed dozens of suspected militant sites in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip today and Palestinians kept up their cross-border rocket fire as international pressure for a truce intensified.
Twelve Palestinian civilians and four fighters were killed in the air strikes, bringing the Gaza death toll since fighting began on Wednesday to 90, more than half of them non-combatants, local officials said. Three Israeli civilians have been killed.
After an overnight lull, militants in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip fired 12 rockets at southern Israel in the span of 10 minutes, causing no casualties, police said. One landed near a school, but it was closed at the time.
The deaths of 11 Palestinian civilians – nine from one family – in an air strike on Sunday drew more international calls for an end to six days of hostilities and could test Western support for an offensive Israel billed as self-defence after years of cross-border rocket attacks.
Israel’s military did not immediately comment on a report in the liberal Haaretz newspaper that it had mistakenly fired on the Dalu family home, where the dead spanned four generations, while trying to kill a Hamas rocketry chief.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was due to arrive in Cairo to weigh in on ceasefire efforts led by Egypt, which borders both Israel and Gaza and whose Muslim Brotherhood-rooted government has been hosting leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, a smaller armed faction in the Palestinian enclave.
Israel sends delegation
Israeli media said a delegation from Israel had also been to Cairo for the truce talks. A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government declined comment on the matter.
Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, speaking in Brussels ahead of a meeting of European Union foreign ministers, said: “I believe there are the conditions to quickly reach a ceasefire in the next few hours.” (Reuters)