Overnight hopes for an Egyptian-negotiated cease-fire faded Sunday as clashes resumed between Israel and Hamas and several Palestinian journalists were injured by Israeli air strikes.
Pictured: Smoke rises after an Israeli forces strike in Gaza City. (November 18, 2012)
After expressing optimism that a truce was imminent, Gaza militants temporarily suspended their rocket fire Saturday night and early Sunday morning, even as Israeli air craft continued to hit targets in Gaza. Israel military confirmed there were no rocket attacks in southern Israel overnight.
By the morning, talks had broken down and Hamas resumed its strikes. By 11 a.m., twin rockets could be seen rising from a residential neighborhood in Gaza City, heading toward the Israeli city of Ashkelon.
Though many of the rockets were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system, including another one heading toward Tel Aviv, direct hits were registered in Beersheba, Sderot and Ashdod. No deaths or serious injuries were reported.
In Gaza, the death toll rose to 55 people, hospital officials said. Most of those killed Sunday were militants but three children were among the dead, officials said.
In addition to military sites and the homes of Hamas officials, Israel expanded its targets to include communication buildings where the journalists were injured.
Military officials defended the attacks against two buidings, saying they were trying to destroy only the rooftop antennas used by militants to communicate.
A 1:30 a.m. strike against one building also destroyed the 11-floor offices of Al-Quds television, a Hamas-affiliated network. Several journalists were seriously wounded, including one whose leg had to be amputated, witnesses said.
Cameraman Mohamed Al-Akhras, 23, said he was working the night-shift in case of any breaking stories and had just fallen asleep when the office exploded, burying him and colleague under furniture and debris.
"Israel targeted us because we are revealing the truth about their crimes,'' Al-Akhras said, half his face dotted with small shrapnel cuts.
The lack of progress toward a truce renewed fears about an impending ground invasion.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu told his cabinet Sunday that Israel is "prepared for a significant expansion of the operation."
Israeli officials said they opened the Keram Shalom crossing point Sunday to allow in 124 trucks with food, medicine and other supplies.
SOURCE: Edmund Sanders
The Los Angeles Times