French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has flown to the Middle East to join Egyptian-led mediation efforts in the Gaza-Israel conflict. The toll has risen to 52 Palestinians and three Israelis killed since Wednesday.
Fabius arrived in Tel Aviv on Sunday as talks intensified in Cairo involving Hamas, the movement that has ruled Gaza for the past five years, and other Palestinian militant groups. Sources quoted by the German news agency DPA said a "senior Israeli official" had arrived in Cairo.
Nabil Shaath, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who was in Cairo, confirmed the Israeli's arrival, according to the news agency Associated Press.
It quoted the aide as saying there were "serious attempts to reach a cease-fire."
Warning from Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier warned that Israel's military was ready to "significantly broaden" its operation as Israeli forces massed along the border with Gaza.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was quoted by the French news agency AFP as saying that Israel would not negotiate a truce with Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers and other militant factions as long as rocket fire continued.
"The first and absolute condition for a truce is stopping all fire from Gaza," he said before meeting Fabius. "We want a long-term arrangement."
Reuters quoted a Palestinian official in Cairo as saying there was "still hope" for a truce. But, in Gaza a Hamas military spokesman Abu Ubaida said the confrontation was "only the beginning."
AFP quoted a Cairo official as saying that Hamas wanted assurances from the United States, Israel's main backer, that it would be the "guaranteeing party."
Media employees wounded
Overnight, the Israeli military targeted two buildings used by media in Gaza City, wounding at least four Palestinian journalists. Medics said an employee of al-Quds television station, allegedly affiliated with Hamas, had lost a leg. Also hit were the offices of Al-Aqsa TV, another Hamas affiliate.
The hits, reportedly by the Israeli air force and navy, were condemned by the Foreign Press Association which cited a UN resolution that calls on media to be protected.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said one strike targeted a "transmission antenna used by Hamas."
A Russia Today broadcasting correspondent said four incoming Israeli rockets struck Al-Aqsa and also damaged his office next door.
Children among dead
Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry said three of Sunday's dead were children killed when a missile struck Gaza City's beachfront Shati refugee camp.
The Israeli officials said 33 rockets attributed to Gaza militants had hit Israel shortly after dawn after a 10-hour lull from Saturday into Sunday.
Two rockets were intercepted over Tel Aviv by Israeli air defenses. Two had hit the southern town of Ashkelon, lightly injuring two persons, they added.
Israel's actions have so far drawn Western support on the grounds that the Jewish state has a right to self-defense.
A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said he had spoken to Netanyahu and highlighted "the danger of further civilian casualties on both sides."
Israel withdrew settlers from Gaza in 2005. Two years later Hamas took control of the Palestinian territory. In early 2009, an Israeli invasion ended three weeks later with 1,400 Palestinians killed, mostly civilians, and 13 Israelis dead.
ipj/kms (Reuters, AFP, dpa)
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