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Conflict

Mideast violence rages unabated despite UN truce call

Israel is continuing to bomb targets in the Gaza Strip in response to rocket fire from Palestinian militants. Growing international calls for a ceasefire have failed to produce any effect.

Israel carried out airstrikes on 40 sites in the Gaza Strip on Monday as it continues its campaign to halt cross-border rocket fire by Palestinian militants.

At least 20 rockets have been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip in the past 12 hours.

Medics said the Israeli raids hit three training facilities used by the armed wing of the Islamist group Hamas, killing two people.

Palestinian security sources additionally reported shelling of the northern town of Beit Lahiya, where Israel had told thousands of residents to leave on Sunday ahead of a major assault that failed to materialize.

Israeli military have also said they shot down an unmanned drone on Monday off the coast of the southern port of Ashdod. Israeli media said the drone was launched from the Gaza Strip.

The death toll from Israeli aerial attacks in the Gaza Strip has now hit 172, with a further 1,230 wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) has said more than three quarters of the victims were civilians.

So far, no Israelis have been killed by Palestinian rocket fire, although there have been some injuries.

International concern

With the conflict now on its seventh day, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged Israel to scrap plans for a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, and called for "immediate measures to end the fighting."

Israel however appears to have no plans for an imminent ground assault despite having mobilized its troops in readiness. Reports say the ministers attending a Sunday evening meeting of the security cabinet had decided against sending in infantry for the time being.

Arab League foreign ministers are to hold an emergency meeting in Cairo on the crisis on Monday that will be attended by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has his headquarters in the West Bank. He is expected to discuss moves to seek UN intervention.

The UN Security Council is also to meet to discuss the conflict.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is also joining international efforts to stop the current conflict. He is set to meet with officials in Jordan on Monday, before holding talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas on Tuesday.

tj/pfd (AFP, dpa)

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