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Tuesday, November 20, 2012
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Gaza death toll passes 100

Media centre hit as Israel keeps up bombardment

A Palestinian walks past a destroyed Hamas security site after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City yesterday. Hostilities between Islamist militants and Israel entered a sixth day yesterday as diplomatic efforts were set to intensify to try to stop rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and Israeli air strikes on Gaza.Photo: Reuters

Israeli raids on the Gaza Strip have continued for a sixth day, despite calls for a truce, with the overall death toll reaching 102.

A media centre was targeted for a second time yesterday when Israeli fighter jets hit the Shuruq tower in Gaza City. The building houses Palestinian and international media outlets, including Britain's Sky News, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya and the official Hamas broadcaster, Al Aqsa TV.

One person was killed in the building. The Islamic Jihad group identified the victim as Ramez Harb and said he was a senior commander in its armed wing, the al-Quds Brigades.

On Sunday, the health ministry said eight journalists were injured when the Shuruq tower and another media building, used by local al-Quds TV, were hit.

Mark Regev, Israeli government spokesman, denied that Israel was targeting journalists.

Instead, he told Al Jazeera that the target of the attacks on media centres were "Hamas communications equipments".

CEASEFIRE EFFORTS

Egypt-brokered ceasefire talks in Cairo have so far failed to reach a deal.

Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader, said on Monday his movement is committed to efforts to secure a truce, but insisted that Israel must lift its six-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.

"We are not against a calming, but we want our demands... to end the thuggery, to end the aggression and to lift the blockade," he said, adding that Hamas would reject any Israeli preconditions for a ceasefire because "they started the aggression".

Israel has showed little sign of being ready to call off its campaign, with Avigdor Lieberman, foreign minister, insisting "the first and absolute condition for a truce is stopping all fire from Gaza".

A string of international leaders have visited the region in recent days in a bid to end the bloodshed, with Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, expected to arrive on Tuesday for two-days of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other officials.

Speaking in Jerusalem after meeting Israeli President Shimon Peres, Tony Blair, envoy for international Quartet for the Middle East, expressed hope a ceasefire would firm up in the coming days.

DALOU FAMILY TRAGEDY

The bodies of four children wrapped in Palestinian flags were carried above a huge crowd from the rubble of their home, destroyed in an Israeli air strike, to their graves yesterday amid mounting anger over the sharply rising toll of civilians in the six-day-old war in Gaza.

Bulldozers, which were clearing concrete and twisted metal from the site of the Dalou family's home in the hope of finding two bodies still trapped beneath the ruins, stopped work to allow the funeral procession to pass.

Eight members of the Dalou family, including four children aged between one and seven, were killed when a missile struck their three-storey home at around 2:30pm on Sunday. Two family members are still missing, and two neighbours were also killed.

The funeral took place amid a heavy Hamas presence, although the family had no known affiliations with any militant group.

Neighbours told reporters that the Dalou family had no connections with militant organisations and that the father -- who was not at home at the time of the air strike – owned a grocery shop.

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