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Israel pounds Gaza amid frantic truce efforts

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2012-11-21

Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip continued late Tuesday despite frantic diplomatic efforts to reach a ceasefire deal, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holding talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Key developments:

  • Egyptian and Palestinian officials said a ceasefire would be announced late Tuesday at talks in Cairo, but an Israeli government spokesman said a deal was not yet concluded.
  • The Israeli toll during a week of fighting rose to five following the deaths of an Israeli soldier and civilian contractor.
  • Palestinian officials say more than 130 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense last week.
  • Israel's air force dropped leaflets across several districts of Gaza City urging people to evacuate their homes. No reason for the order was supplied.

Israeli aerial and naval forces pounded targets in the Gaza Strip late Tuesday despite frantic diplomatic efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arriving in the region to help broker a deal that it is hoped will end a week of deadly fighting.

Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Clinton said “the goal must be a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike.''

Clinton, who rushed to the region while on an East Asian tour with US President Barack Obama, is due to travel to the West Bank city of Ramallah and the Egyptian capital of Cairo Wednesday.

The joint press conference with Clinton and Netanyahu in Jerusalem late Tuesday followed conflicting reports about whether the two sides had reached a ceasefire agreement.

Earlier in the day, a Hamas official told reporters a deal would be announced shortly during Egyptian-brokered talks in Cairo. But senior Israeli officials said a ceasefire agreement had not yet been reached.

Rocket fired at Jerusalem

Meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes and rocket attacks from Gaza continued for a seventh day, with the Israeli toll rising to five following the deaths of an Israeli soldier and civilian contractor Tuesday. More than 130 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense last week, according to Palestinian officials.

Frantic diplomatic efforts continue

Israeli officials said about 150 rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel on Tuesday, many of them intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system.

A rocket was fired at Jerusalem on Tuesday but did not hit the city or cause any casualties, Israeli police said. It was the second time a rocket had been launched towards Jerusalem since the Israeli offensive began last Wednesday. Air raid sirens had not previously been heard in the city for decades.

In a statement released Tuesday, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) accused Iran of being behind the rockets launched at Israel, “forcing Israeli citizens to live under unbearable circumstances”.

Israeli air force drops evacuation leaflets in Gaza City

Inside the densely-populated Gaza Strip, Palestinians braced for another night of Israeli bombardments.

Reporting from Gaza, FRANCE 24’s Gallagher Fenwick said Palestinians feared a repeat of the 2008 Cast Lead offensive if truce talks broke down.

“The scenario that Gazans fear most is that Israel will reject the proposals that have been put forward by the Egyptian mediator, which will trigger the next step - the prospect of thousands of Israeli soldiers posted along the border entering the territory in their armoured vehicles,” said Fenwick. “If that happens, then the likelihood of the death toll rapidly increasing is very high.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Israel's air force dropped leaflets across several districts of Gaza City urging people to evacuate their homes "immediately" amid fears of an imminent ground invasion.

"For your own safety, you are required to immediately evacuate your homes and move toward Gaza City centre," the one-page Arabic-language leaflet said.

Among the districts named were Sheikh Ajlin, Tel al-Hawa, Rimal, Zeitoun, Shejaiya-Turkman and Shejaiya-Jadida.

The message gave no reason for the order, but pledged that everyone who complied would be safe.

 

 

Date created : 2012-11-21

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