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Israel -Gaza Crisis:Death toll rises as Ban Ki-moon steps in Last Updated : 20 Nov 2012 01:18:34 PM IST Israel -Gaza Crisis:Death toll over 100 as Ban Ki-moon steps in
Israeli bombardment on the narrow Gaza Strip continued for a sixth day on Monday despite calls for a truce, flattening Gaza's police headquarters and taking the Palestinian death toll to over 111.UN chief Ban Ki-moon has joined efforts to end the worst violence in four years and Israel's inner circle of ministers mulled their next move.
Concerned over the escalating violence ,UK Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt has arrived in the Middle East to meet senior Israeli and Palestinian figures
During his three-day visit to Israel and the Gaza Strip, he will make every possible to end the violence
Ban on the other hand expressed concern at the increasing violence in a statement before setting off for the region. "I am deeply saddened by the reported deaths of more than ten members of the Dalu family... (and) by the continuing firing of rockets against Israeli towns, which have killed several Israeli civilians," Ban said.
Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader, said his movement is committed to efforts to secure a truce, but insisted the Israel must lift its six-year blockade of the Gaza Strip. "We are not against a calming, but we want our demands...to end the thuggery, to end the aggression and to lift the blockade," he said, adding that Hamas would reject any Israeli preconditions for a ceasefire because "they started the aggression".
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphasised Israel's right to "self-defence", but spoke to several world leaders,asking them to use their influence to work for an immediate de-escalation of tensions.
At least 21 people were killed today, including three Palestinians in new Israeli strikes here. A media centre was also targeted for a second time today when Israeli fighter jets hit the Shuruq tower in Gaza City.
An Israeli missile killed a senior Islamic Jihad militant in a Gaza City tower housing Palestinian and international media, the second time in as many days it has been targeted.
The Israeli army said it had fired missiles at more than 1,300 locations in Gaza since Wednesday, and that 544 rockets were fired back against Israel. Three Israelis have been killed and a few dozen wounded.
The building houses Palestinian and international media outlets, including Britain's Sky News, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya and the official Hamas broadcaster, Al Aqsa TV. One person was killed in the building.
As civilian casualties mounted in Gaza, Egypt intensified efforts to mediate a truce between the two sides, and UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for an immediate ceasefire as he prepared to join truce talks in Cairo.
The death toll in the coastal territory since the Operation Pillar of Defence began had reached 102, one third of the killed were not involved in the conflict.
It said the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) admitted that nine Palestinians were killed "accidentally" in a missile strike in which a top operative in Hamas rocket programme was hit.
The army's chief military spokesman, Yoav Mordechai, told that the intended target of the strike had been Yehiya Rabiah, the head of Hamas's rocket-launching unit, but that there had been "civilian casualties".
While Israeli military continued to pound the narrow Gaza Strip -- 41 km long, 6-12 km wide -- incessantly from both land and sea, it also prepared for a ground offensive in case truce talks failed. Even as casualties mounted, including women and children, Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said he had assured world leaders that Israel was doing its utmost to
avoid causing civilian casualties.
Sunday turned out to be the bloodiest day in the conflict, with 29 Palestinians reported killed. Among the dead was a family of at least nine people - half of them children -killed when an Israeli airstrike demolished a three-storey building in Gaza.
Meanwhile, Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi met Meshaal,and Ramadan Shallah of Islamic Jihad as part of the mediation
efforts. Israeli negotiators had also arrived in Cairo for talks yesterday. While most Western nations have supported Israel's
military onslaught calling it the country's right to self defence, some leaders spoke against the rising civilian casualties in Gaza.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of committing "terrorist acts" in Gaza, and charged the West of turning a blind eye to the killings of civilians there."Those who equate Islam with terrorism condone mass murder of Muslims and turn their heads against the killing of children in Gaza," he said at the Eurasian Islamic Council conference in Istanbul.
"For this reason I say that Israel is a terrorist state and that its acts are terrorist acts," he said. Meanwhile, the leaders of the Palestinian movements of Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank today pledged unity and vowed to "end the division" in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is scheduled to travel to the region, also called for creating conditions for ceasefire.Source: IANS, Other Agencies, Staff Reporters
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