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Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:44:06 +0000
(JERUSALEM) -- Israel slammed Gaza with a barrage of airstrikes overnight, the heaviest bombardment in the three-week conflict.
Symbols of Hamas control came under fire, including TV headquarters, government offices and the home of a top leader. Israel said it targeted over 70 sites and hit 10 “terror operatives.”
Israeli troops also shelled Gaza Strip’s only power plant, hitting a fuel tank and causing the plant to shut down. Fire burned following the attack, with heavy smoke rising over Gaza City. Engineer Fatahi Khalil, from the electricity company, confirmed that it will take a year to fix the power plant. The damage will be assessed at a later time, he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Monday in a televised speech of a "prolonged" campaign in Gaza.
Hamas also signaled defiance. Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader whose house was struck in an airstrike early Tuesday, said in a statement that "destroying stones will not break our determination."
The tough words by both sides came amid mounting international appeals for an unconditional cease-fire.
However, Hamas has said it will not stop fighting until it wins international guarantees that a seven-year-old border blockade of Gaza will be lifted. Israel said its troops will not leave Gaza until they have demolished several dozen Hamas military tunnels under the Gaza-Israel border. Late Monday, Netanyahu signaled that Israel is intensifying its air- and ground campaign.
The overall Gaza death toll rose past 1,100, according to the Palestinian health ministry, with another 6,500 injured.
The Israeli military said five of its soldiers were killed Monday, raising the total death toll on the Israeli side to 56, including 53 soldiers.
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