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Gaza Fighting Continues in Defiance of Demands for Cease-fire

  • VOA News

Israel pounded the Gaza Strip from the air, sea and land today (Saturday) and Hamas militants fired rockets into the Jewish state, as both sides defied international demands for a halt to the conflict.

Israeli warplanes carried out more than 40 air strikes, killing at least 15 Hamas fighters.

Israeli military officials say troops killed a top member of Hamas's military wing, Amir Mansi. They say he was involved in rocket attacks on Israel in recent weeks.

Palestinian medics say an Israeli tank shell killed at least eight people in the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza. The Israeli military denied carrying out the attack.

Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets today warning Gaza residents it plans to intensify its offensive, which just entered its third week.

Meanwhile, Hamas launched rockets that wounded at least three people in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon.

A Palestinian journalist (Mohammed Dawwass) told VOA the Israeli army has made random phone calls to Gaza residents saying it is going to proceed to the next stage of its offensive. The journalists said Israel warned the residents to stay away from Hamas members.

Gaza medical officials say at least 821 Palestinians have died in the conflict. They estimate about half of the dead are civilians. Israel says it is not targeting civilians and has accused Hamas gunmen of launching rockets from populated areas.

Thirteen Israelis have been killed, including 10 soldiers and three civilians hit by rocket fire.

On the humanitarian front, the Israeli military halted fire for the fourth straight day today to allow aid to enter Gaza. Israel has said it is stopping its offensive for three hours each day (between 1100 and 1400 GMT) to allow Gaza residents to get supplies and medical help. Hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza face shortages of food, medicine, water and power.

In related news, the Israeli military says its troops did not shoot at a U.N. truck convoy on its way to pick up aid on Thursday at a Gaza border crossing. One person with the convoy was killed in the shooting.

An Israeli military statement says those wounded in the shooting were treated at an Israeli hospital.

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