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Fighting Continues In Middle East

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

As top diplomats from the United States and the U.N. try to work out a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the top Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip is signaling that his group won’t agree to an unconditional truce.

Hamas has said it first wants guarantees that Israel and Egypt will significantly ease a seven-year border blockade of Gaza.

The cross-border fighting continued today, with Israeli strikes leaving entire families under rubble. Hamas militants, meanwhile, fired more than 50 rockets and tried to sneak into Israel through two tunnels — the latest in a series of attempts.

For a second day in a row, the Palestinian death toll today topped 100. Rescuers going through the wreckage of a house that was targeted late yesterday retrieved 28 bodies, including 24 from one family.

Palestinian officials say the total number killed since the fighting began two weeks ago is at least 566, with some 3,350 wounded.

Israel’s military says seven Israeli soldiers were killed today in clashes with Palestinian militants. That raised the overall Israeli death toll to 27, including two civilians.

A hospital in Gaza was hit by Israeli tank shells today, and officials say four people were killed, with 60 others wounded. Israel says an initial investigation indicates that anti-tank missiles were stored near the hospital, and that they were successfully targeted.

Israel says civilian casualties are a “tragic inevitability” when Hamas stores weapons near homes, hospitals and mosques.

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