Calls for Gaza ceasefire after deaths mount

City A.M. Reporter
INTERNATIONAL pressure for a ceasefire was mounting yesterday after five days of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel and Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

An Israeli missile killed at least 11 Palestinian civilians including four children in Gaza yesterday, medical officials said, after an attack on a top militant that brought a three-storey home crashing down.

Egypt has taken the lead in trying to broker a ceasefire. Israeli media said a delegation from Israel had been to Cairo for talks on ending the fighting. US President Barack Obama said that while Israel had a right to defend itself but that it would be “preferable” for Israel not to invade Gaza.

Israel said 544 rockets fired from Gaza have hit Israel since Wednesday, killing three civilians and wounding dozens. Some 302 were intercepted and 99 failed to reach Israel and landed inside the Gaza Strip.

Gaza officials said 72 Palestinians, 21 of them children and several women have been killed in Gaza since Israel’s offensive began. Hundreds have been wounded.

Israel’s declared goal is to deplete Gaza arsenals and force the Islamist Hamas to stop rocket fire that has bedeviled Israeli border towns for years and is now displaying greater range, putting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in the crosshairs.