The Israeli military, declining to comment specifically on the
attacks that flattened the Basha Tower and wrecked the Italian
Complex, said it attacked 15 "terror sites", including some in
buildings that housed Hamas command and control centers.
Hamas, the dominant militant group in the Gaza Strip, accused Israel
of an "unprecedented act of revenge against civilians" aimed at
deterring Palestinians from supporting the Islamist movement.
A Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, said Egypt had proposed a new
ceasefire and was waiting for Israel to respond, after a five-day
truce and indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks in Cairo on a durable
Gaza agreement collapsed a week ago.
Locked in a seven-week-old war and vowing to end rocket fire from
the enclave, Israel has now attacked three of Gaza's most prominent
high-rise buildings since Saturday, when it destroyed the 13-storey
Al Zafer Tower.
No fatalities were reported in those bombings, which were preceded
by non-explosive warning missiles that sent residents fleeing.
Twenty people were wounded in the attack on the Italian Complex
building, and two others were killed in Israeli strikes elsewhere in
the Gaza Strip, medical officials said.
Palestinian rocket fire damaged a house in the southern Israeli
coastal town of Ashkelon, lightly wounding 10 people police said.
Another rocket was intercepted over the Tel Aviv area, an army
Cairo's latest initiative, Palestinians officials said, called for
an indefinite halt to hostilities, the immediate opening of Gaza's
blockaded crossings with Israel and Egypt and a widening of the
enclave's fishing zone in the Mediterranean.
Under a second stage that would begin a month later, Israel and the
Palestinians would discuss the construction of a Gaza sea port and
an Israeli release of Hamas prisoners in the occupied West Bank, the
Both Israel and Egypt view Hamas as a security threat and are
demanding guarantees that weapons will not enter the economically
An Israeli official speaking on condition of anonymity said Israel
would consider an Egyptian proposal once assured that Hamas was
ready to accept it.
[to top of second column]
Speaking on Al-Arabiya television, Hamdan said: "Returning to
negotiations must be linked to a position that includes guarantees
and clear Israeli concessions."
Separately, the United States has begun preparing its own draft
outline for a proposed United Nations resolution to demand a
ceasefire, working alongside European powers and Jordan on a final
draft, diplomats said.
Palestinian health officials say 2,125 people, most of them
civilians, including more than 490 children, have been killed in
Gaza since July 8, when Israel launched an offensive with the
declared aim of ending the rocket salvoes.
Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and four civilians in Israel have been
Thousands of homes in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed or damaged
in the conflict. Nearly 500,000 people have been displaced in the
territory where Palestinians, citing Israeli attacks that have hit
schools and mosques, say no place is safe.
Israel has said Hamas bears responsibility for civilian casualties,
because it operates among non-combatants. The group, it said, uses
schools and mosques to store weapons and as launch sites for
cross-border rocket attacks.
(Additional reporting by Ori Lewis and Allyn Fisher-Ilan in
Jerusalem, Louis Charbonneau at the United Nations, Writing by
Jeffrey Heller; editing by Ralph Boulton)
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