Medics: Israel strike kills 11 civilians in Gaza

Associated Press Modified: November 18, 2012 at 3:16 pm •  Published: November 18, 2012
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"The targets are exact," Mordechai said. "Every (Israeli) missile has an address."

He said the army would continue its operation "as if there were no (cease-fire) talks in Egypt."

The presence of a militant in the house could not be verified. Al-Kidra said the two adult men killed in the strike were civilians.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said that "the Israeli people will pay the price" for the killing of civilians. One of the rocket attacks targeting Tel Aviv came soon after the strike on the Daloo home.

More than a dozen homes of Hamas commanders or families linked to Hamas were struck on Sunday. Though most were empty — their inhabitants having fled to shelter — at least three still had families in them. Al-Kidra said 19 of the 24 people killed Sunday were civilians, mostly women and children.

Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon said civilian casualties are inevitable.

"You can't avoid collateral damage if they position the rockets in densely populated areas, in mosques, school yards. We shouldn't be blamed for the outcome," he said.

Israel also struck two high-rise buildings housing media outlets, damaging the top floor offices of the Hamas TV station, Al Aqsa, and a Lebanese-based broadcaster, Al Quds TV, seen as sympathetic to the Islamists. Six Palestinian journalists were wounded, including one who lost a leg, a Gaza press association said.

Foreign broadcasters, including British, German and Italian TV outlets, also had offices in the high-rises.

Two missiles made a direct hit on Al Aqsa TV's 15th floor offices, said Bassem Madhoun, an employee of Dubai TV, which has offices in the same building.

Building windows were blown out and glass shards and debris were scattered on the street below. Some of the journalists who had been inside the building at the time took cover in the entrance hallway.

Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, an Israeli military spokeswoman, said the strikes targeted Hamas communications equipment on the buildings' rooftops. She accused the group of using journalists as "human shields," and urged journalists to stay clear of Hamas bases and facilities.

The repeated militant rocket fire on Tel Aviv and a volley fired Friday toward Jerusalem have significantly escalated the hostilities by widening the militants' rocket range and putting 3.5 million Israelis, or half the country's population, within reach. The attempt to strike Jerusalem also has symbolic resonance because both Israel and the Palestinians claim the holy city for a capital.

Israeli radio stations repeatedly interrupted their broadcasts to air "Code Red" alerts warning of impending rocket strikes. In the southern city of Ashkelon, rocket fire damaged a residential building, punching a hole in the ceiling and riddling the facade with shrapnel.

With fighting showing no signs of slowing, international attempts to broker a ceasefire continued.

Nabil Shaath, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who was in Cairo, confirmed that the Israeli envoy had arrived in Egypt for talks, saying there are "serious attempts to reach a ceasefire." There was no immediate Israeli confirmation.

Hamas' prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, spoke to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. He told the Egyptian leader he supports such efforts, provided Hamas receives "guarantees that will prevent any future aggression" by Israel, his office said in a statement.

Morsi over the weekend hosted talks with Hamas' supreme leader, as well as leaders from Hamas allies Turkey and Qatar. He also held contacts with Western leaders.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius visited Israel on Sunday to offer his country's help toward forging an "immediate ceasefire," the French government said.

Meeting with Fabius, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman thanked him for "France's efforts to prevent casualties" but said "the moment that all the terror organizations announce a ceasefire, we can consider all the ideas that French foreign minister and other friends are raising."

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Aron Heller contributed reporting from Beersheba.