Israel attacks pound Gaza, killing 24 on bloodiest day in latest offensive

ASHKELON, Israel — The fifth day of Israel’s military assault on Gaza was the bloodiest so far, with 24 Palestinians killed — 11 of them civilians who died in a bombing of their Gaza City home.

Hamas fired nearly 150 rockets into the Jewish state in a single day, Israeli officials said.

The sharp escalation on both sides accompanied frenzied last-minute diplomacy in a desperate effort to forestall an Israeli ground assault into the Hamas-controlled enclave.

The carnage brought the Palestinian death toll to 73 since the onslaught began last Wednesday. Three Israeli civilians have died from rocket fire.

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MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

A Palestinian relative grieves at the hospital in Gaza City on November 18, 2012, after seven members of the same family, including four children, were among nine people killed when an Israeli missile struck a family home in Gaza City, the health ministry said.

In Bangkok, President Obama said it would be “preferable” if Israel exercised its right to self-defense “without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza.”

His comments were echoed by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who warned Israel that it risked losing the support even of its closest allies if it embarked on a ground invasion.

Palestinian officials said four women, one in her 80s, and four children from one family were among the 11 people killed when an Israeli missile leveled their home.

The attack targeted a leader of the Hamas rocket corps — but the wrong house was hit, reported Haaretz, citing sources in the Israel Defense Forces.

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YASEER QUDIH/AP

Smoke billows as debris flies from the explosion at the local Al-Aqsa TV station in Gaza City, Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012.

“The massacre of the Al-Dalou family will not pass without punishment,” the Hamas Al-Qassam Brigades armed wing said in a statement.

Israel carried out more than 100 strikes across Gaza Sunday, bringing the total since Wednesday to 1,100. Palestinians have fired more than 800 rockets into Israel, of which nearly 300 have been intercepted.

An Israeli envoy was reported to have spent the day in Cairo for ceasefire talks with Egyptian mediators, while Nabeel Sha’ath, a senior Fatah official, was dispatched to Gaza by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to intercede with Hamas leaders.

The Israel Foreign Press Association protested after six journalists were injured, one seriously, when Israeli missiles destroyed the offices of two TV stations linked to Hamas in Gaza City, towers that also house Sky News Arabic and other international bureaus.

Israelis run for cover

URIEL SINAI/GETTY IMAGES

Israelis run for cover during a rocket attack on November 18, 2012 in Tel Aviv, Israel.  Dozens of Palestinians and three Israeli’s have died since the conflict began five days ago.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Israel had bombed Al-Quds TV “because it had enraged the Zionists” with coverage of Israel’s “crimes in Gaza.”

The Israeli Army said it carried out “a pinpoint strike” that left other bureaus unscathed, noting that both networks were Hamas affiliates and so considered legitimate targets.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/israel-attacks-pound-gaza-killing-24-article-1.1204194#ixzz2CdsfnY8J

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