Israel is bombing about 60 targets across the Strip

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Israel intensified its airstrikes in Gaza last night, reports CNN, bombing about 60 targets across the Strip on the 13th day of the operation. One of the targets was a mosque that the Israeli military claims stored weapons and sheltered Hamas fighters. The airstrikes also targeted 10 Hamas tunnels used to funnel arms from Egypt as well as “a number of armed gunmen,” according to an IDF spokesman.

Unconfirmed reports from the south of the Strip also suggested that an Israeli tank protected by helicopters advanced toward the second-largest city of Khan Younis. The death toll in Gaza has now reached 700, while seven Israeli soldiers and three citizens have died. Israel said today that it would once again observe a three-hour truce to allow food, fuel, and humanitarian supplies into Gaza—although fighting continued intermittently during yesterday’s stoppage.(Source)

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The UN today halted all aid deliveries to the besieged Gaza Strip

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The United Nations today halted all aid deliveries to the besieged Gaza Strip, citing a series of Israeli attacks on UN staff and installations. The announcement came shortly after the driver of a UN truck was killed by tank fire as he was headed to an Israeli border crossing to pick up an aid shipment. The UN said the delivery had been coordinated with Israel. The Israeli army has not commented.

A UN spokesman says aid shipments are being suspended until the safety of UN staff can be guaranteed. Earlier this week, nearly 40 people were killed by Israeli mortar fire outside a UN school. Israel said its troops had come under fire by militants using the building for cover. For a second straight day, Israel said it suspended its Gaza military operation for three hours today to allow in humanitarian supplies, but the truck driver came under fire before the pause, the UN says.  (Source)

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Hamas continues to fire its rockets

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Israel continues to press its assault and Hamas continues to fire its rockets, but a sliver of hope emerged tonight toward an end to the Gaza hostilities, MSNBC reports. Representatives from Israel, Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority will meet—probably separately—with Egyptian officials in Cairo tomorrow to discuss a possible truce. Twelve days of fighting have left 688 Palestinians and 10 Israelis dead.

Condoleezza Rice voiced support for the proposal. “We are very much applauding the efforts of a number of states, particularly the effort that President Mubarak has undertaken on behalf of Egypt,” she said. “We’re supporting that initiative.” The UN Security Council has failed to agree on any kind of a resolution regarding the fighting.(Source)

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Hamas Thinks It Has the Upper Hand

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Israel says its military offensive in Gaza has dealt Hamas a heavy blow, but that’s not how the leaders of the radical Palestinian group see it. Their view is based more on a kind of jujitsu that uses Israel’s military momentum against its own political objectives than on any serious belief in rhetoric about the organization’s “steadfast” fighters being able to “crush” the invaders.

Israel had long assumed that Hamas wanted a ground invasion so it could land some blows on the Israeli military in order to claim a propaganda victory once the Israelis inevitably withdrew. Still, by entering Gaza on Saturday, the Israelis calculated that they could draw Hamas into clashes that would substantially weaken the organization, even if Israel suffered some casualties. But despite the ferocity of the fighting that rages in some parts of Gaza, there are indications that Hamas is keeping many of its best fighters out of the direct path of the advancing Israelis. Israeli military officials have noted that resistance has not been as fierce as expected, and that most Israeli soldiers wounded in the operation thus far have been struck by mortar rounds fired from a considerable distance. Meanwhile, Hamas continues to fire rockets into Israel in a symbolic taunt to the Israeli public. (See pictures of Israel’s sweep into Gaza.)

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