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Israel kills 12 in rocket attack on high-rise

Israeli aircraft pounded targets across the Gaza Strip, killing 12 people and toppling a high-rise building, after the army warned it would go after militant facilities and hunt down leaders of the territory's ruling Hamas group.

Militants barraged southern Israel with dozens of rockets and mortars, the army said, as fighting escalated a day after a mortar round killed a four-year-old Israeli boy. They extended the rockets' range to the centre of the country after the 13-floor apartment building was destroyed. An Israeli military spokeswoman said the structure was a war room.

More than 2,100 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, and 68 Israelis, all but four of them soldiers, have died since Israel embarked on its offensive seven weeks ago.

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Stakes rose earlier this week when Israeli air strikes killed three senior Hamas leaders and apparently targeted the group's top military commander, Mohammed Deif, killing his wife, a son and a daughter.

Military spokesman Brigadier General Moti Almoz said Israel was preparing for a possible renewal of its ground offensive. Israeli ministers authorised the call-up of 10,000 reserve troops.

In leaflets, text messages and audio recordings, the military urged Gaza's 1.8 million people to stay away from "every site in which terrorist organisations are operating". Israel's campaign "has not been concluded", it said.

hnews@herald.ie


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