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Israel intensifies Gaza bombardment; 47 kids among 220 dead
Thursday July 17, 2014 1:18 AM, Agencies

Four more Palestinians were killed Wednesday in a new Israeli airstrike on the Gaza Strip, taking the death toll in nine days of bombing to 220, including 47 children, even as the Islamic Hamas movement rejected a Egyptian ceasefire proposal with Israel seeking guarantees that oblige Israel not to violate any upcoming truce agreement.

Gaza bombing
[Palestinian children look at the rubble of a destroyed mosque following an Israeli military strike in the Nusseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, on July 12, 2014. Israel vowed no let-up in its aerial bombardment of Gaza, which has claimed more than 100 Palestinian lives, as a defiant Hamas rained more rockets on the Jewish state. AFP PHOTO/THOMAS COEX]

More than 1,500 people have been injured. One in five of those killed so far have been children, the NGO Save the Children said on Wednesday, and the vast majority were civilians, according to the United Nations.

The army also bombed the houses of several senior Hamas leaders, including Mahmoud al-Zahar.

Some of the heaviest bombing was in and around the northern city of Beit Lahia, where the army conducted 50 airstrikes. Israel dropped leaflets and called residents the night before, warning the 100,000 inhabitants of the area to evacuate to other parts of the besieged strip.

Hamas and other groups had fired more than 60 rockets by Wednesday evening, according to the Israeli army, with no injuries or serious damage reported. One Israeli has been killed so far by more than 1,000 rockets launched from Gaza.

Ashraf al-Qedra, a spokesman of the Gaza health ministry, told reporters that four children were killed and six others wounded in an Israeli airstrike on the beach of Gaza city.

He added that since early Wednesday, 16 Palestinians were killed and more than 20 wounded in the ongoing airstrikes on houses, empty lands and on the beach all over the Gaza Strip.

Earlier in the day, Hamas officially informed Egypt that it did not accept the Egyptian initiative of ceasefire between Gaza militants and Israel, a Hamas official said.

Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a press statement that his movement has officially informed Egypt that it doesn't accept the initiative without elaborating.

However, efforts on reaching a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza Strip militants seemed to have been renewed after reports said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was headed to Egypt to discuss a truce in the territory.

Abbas is to meet Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and another Hamas top leader Musa Abu Marzooq in Cairo to study an initiative presented by Egypt for a ceasefire.

Nabil Shaath, member in Abbas Fatah Party, told reporters in Ramallah that Abbas would meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi and then with Mesha'al and Abu Marzooq.

However, Mushir al-Masri, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza, told Xinhua in a telephone conversation that Hamas wanted Arab and regional guarantees before talking about any new truce or ceasefire with Israel.

"Over the past few days, Hamas has been receiving many contacts from Arab and Islamic countries to discuss a truce, while Turkey and Qatar are exerting intensive efforts to push forward declaring a ceasefire," said al-Masri.

He stressed that Hamas was interested in stopping the fighting in Gaza, but added that "before ceasing fire, there have to be guarantees that oblige Israel not to violate any upcoming truce agreement."

Meanwhile, al-Masri denied that Hamas and Islamic Jihad had earlier presented any initiative to Egypt calling for a 10-year truce with Israel, adding that "this is an Israeli nonsense always published in the media".

Earlier, Israel reportedly told the residents of two neighbourhoods in Gaza city, Sheja'eya and Zaytoon, and the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia to leave their homes.

Israeli media reported that the army intended to destroy thousands of houses in the three areas because there were many tunnels dug underneath them.

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