GAZA suffered its bloodiest day since Israel launched a military offensive in the Hamas-controlled enclave, with a sharp escalation in the ferocity of attacks from both sides amid frenzied last-minute diplomacy to try and forestall an Israeli ground assault.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed a "significant expansion" of Israel's military onslaught, even as an Israeli envoy was reported to be travelling to Cairo for ceasefire talks with Egyptian mediators.
Nabeel Sha'ath, a senior Fatah official, was dispatched to Gaza by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to intercede with the leaders of the rival Hamas group.
At least 24 Palestinians were killed by Israeli air and artillery attacks yesterday - raising the Palestinian death toll to 69 and marking the day as the bloodiest since Operation Pillar of Defence began last Wednesday with the assassination of the Hamas military chief, Ahmed al-Jabari. Israel said the commander of the Hamas rocket unit was among yesterday's targets.
Eleven Palestinian civilians were reported killed when an Israeli missile levelled their home in Gaza City's Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in an apparent strike against the home of a senior Hamas militant.
The Palestinian Ma'an News Agency said that four women and four children from the same family were among the dead.
The Israel Foreign Press Association, meanwhile, lodged an official complaint with the Israeli army after six journalists were injured, one seriously, when Israeli missiles destroyed the offices and studio of two television stations linked to Hamas in Gaza City high-rises that also house Sky News Arabic and other international media bureaus.
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