German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, in Israel hoping to calm violence, has called for an end to civilian casualties, after health officials in Gaza said the Palestinian death toll had surpassed 100 people.
Israel bombed dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip Monday, but announced that, though the country is prepared to send in ground troops, the preference is for a diplomatic solution that would end Palestinian rocket fire. Although 84 percent of Israelis support the Gaza assault, according to a poll by Haaretz, only 30 percent want a ground invasion.
Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, emphasized that more civilian deaths must be avoided.
"We must discuss how we can get to a ceasefire," Westerwelle said. "That is the key to everything else."
Death toll rises
Meanwhile, UN leader Ban Ki-moon has arrived in Cairo for talks with Egypt on brokering a peace deal. Egypt confirmed a truce could be in the works.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the next steps with his circle of senior ministers.
In calls to Netanyahu and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, US President Barack Obama expressed his regrets for so many civilian deaths. Israeli attacks on the sixth day of fighting raised the number of Palestinian dead to 101, Gaza's Health Ministry announced, listing 24 children among them.
Hospital officials said more than half of those killed were noncombatants. Three Israeli civilians died on Thursday in a rocket strike.
mkg/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)
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