Monday, 19 November 2012

The Gaza clash escalates with the deadliest Israeli strike

Bernat Armangue/the Associated Presssmoke rose over Gaza City on Sunday, as Israel extended its range of targets to include buildings used by the news media.

CAIRO — Emboldened by Islamists growing power around the region, the Palestinian militant group Hamas called for new Israeli concessions to its security and independence before it stops its rocket attacks on Israel, even as the conflict took a growing toll on Sunday.

A look at violence in Gaza, a woman and her child took cover in the southern Israeli city of Ashod, which was the target of several rockets on Sunday.

After five days of punishing Israeli air strikes on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and no letup in rocket fire in return for Israel and Hamas representatives met separately with Egyptian officials in Cairo on Sunday for indirect talks on a cease-fire.

The talks came as an Israeli bomb hit a house in Gaza on Sunday afternoon, killing 11 people in the deadliest single strike since the conflict between Israel and Hamas escalated on Wednesday. The strike, along with several others who killed civilians across the Gaza Strip, signaled that Israel extends its range of targets on the fifth day of the campaign.

At the end of the day, Gaza health officials reported that 70 Palestinians had been killed in air strikes since Wednesday, including 20 children, and that 600 had been wounded. Three Israelis have been killed and at least 79 wounded by persistent rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel and as far north as Tel Aviv.

Hamas, poorly armed banditry disguised cruise on the battlefield, seemed to try to take advantage of its increased political clout with its ideological allies in Egypt's new Islamic-led Government. The Group's leaders reject Israel's call for an immediate end to rocket attacks have instead established sweeping requirements, which would put Hamas in a stronger position than when the conflict began: cessation of Israel's five-year-old embargo of the Gaza Strip, a promise that Israel not to attack again and multinational guarantees that Israel would meet its commitments.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel stabbed his demand that all rocket fire ceases before the air campaign leaves, and Israeli tanks and troops remained lined up outside Gaza on Sunday. Tens of thousands of reserve troops had been called. "The Army is prepared to expand the operation considerably," Mr. Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

Reda Fahmy, a member of Egypt's House of Lords of Parliament, and of the nation's dominant Islamic party, resulting from the negotiations, said the attitude was equally unequivocal Hamass. "Hamas has a clear and precise requirements: for the siege lifted completely from Gaza," he said. "It is not reasonable that every now and then Israel decides to level the Gaza with the Earth, and so we decide to sit down and talk about it when it is done. On the Israeli side, they want to stop the missiles from one side. How is it? "

He added: "if they stop the aircraft from shooting, Hamas will then stop its missiles. But the violence could not be stopped from one side. "

Hamas aggressive attitude in the negotiations a cease-fire is the first test of the Group's belief that the Arab spring and the increase of Islamic influence around the region has strengthened his political hand, both against Israel and Palestinian rivals, Hamas, which now controls the West Bank, with Western backing.

It also puts intense new pressure on President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was known for his fiery speeches defending Hamas and condemning Israel. Mr. Morsi must now strike a balance between the conflicting demands of an Egyptian public, which is deeply sympathise with Hamas and the Palestinian case against the Western pleadings to help broker a peace and Egypt's need for regional stability to revive its moribund economy.

Actually illustrates the Egyptian-led truce talks the divergent paths of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, a Palestinian offshoot of the original Egyptian Islamist group. Hamas has evolved into a more militant insurgents and called a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, while the Brotherhood has effectively been Egypt's ruling party. Mr. Fahmy said in an interview in March that Brotherhoods new responsibilities required a step back from its ideological cousins in Hamas, and even a new push to convince the group to compromise.

Reporting was contributed by Ethan Bronner and Isabel Kershner, Irit Pazner Garshowitz from Jerusalem, and Peter Baker from Bangkok.

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