Thursday, November 23, 2017
News Roundup

Death toll of Israel's Gaza campaign hits 114 as U.S. seeks cease-fire

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JERUSALEM — Israel kept up a steady bombardment of the Gaza Strip from the air and sea Friday as the United States offered to broker a cease-fire that would end an offensive launched to quell rocket fire from the territory.

The death toll from the Israeli attacks continued to climb, with the United Nations reporting 114 people killed, of whom 88 were civilians, including 30 children and 17 women. Another 850 people were injured, more than two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

In Israel, a man was seriously wounded when a rocket fired from Gaza hit a gas station in the southern port city of Ashdod. A woman was injured in a rocket strike that hit homes in the southern city of Beersheba.

A rocket fired by militants in Lebanon landed in northern Israel in an open area, causing no casualties or damage, the army said. Israeli troops responded with artillery fire.

The Israeli army said more than 600 rockets and mortar rounds had been launched from Gaza since the start of the offensive against the militant Islamist group Hamas and allied factions. They have caused only limited damage and no deaths.

In a phone call Thursday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Barack Obama "reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself" against rocket attacks but "expressed concern about the risk of further escalation and emphasized the need for all sides to do everything they can to protect the lives of civilians and restore calm," the White House said in a statement.

"The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 cease-fire agreement," the statement added, referring to a truce that ended a previous Israeli offensive against Hamas.

Dan Shapiro, the American ambassador to Israel, told Israel Radio that Secretary of State John Kerry had contact with Egypt, Qatar and other governments in the region to help mediate an end to the fighting.

Netanyahu appeared to rule out any immediate movement toward a cease-fire on Friday.

"No international pressure will prevent us from operating with full force against a terrorist organization that calls for our destruction," he said. "We will strike hard at all those who try to attack us."

Since the start of the Gaza offensive, more than 1,000 targets in the densely populated coastal enclave have been hit with more than 2,000 tons of explosives, the army said.

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Published: 11/23/17