US SECRETARY OF State Hillary Clinton is to travel to Israel and Egypt amid efforts to reach a truce between Israel and Hamas militants whose seven day conflict has now claimed over 100 lives.
US officials have said that the Clinton will visit Jerusalem, Ramallah and Cairo for talks on the conflict as the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for an immediate cessation of the violence.
Over night seven Palestinians were wounded in strikes on Gaza but no one was killed in the first night without fatalities since Israel began its air campaign a week ago in response to rockets being fired by Hamas into Israeli cities.
The Israeli military said it attacked about 100 targets in the coastal strip during the night, using aircraft, warships and artillery.
An army spokeswoman told AFP that at least three rockets hit southern Israel overnight, and two more were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system.
As Israeli troops amass at the border with Gaza there are growing fears of an invasion similar to that which 2008-09 which claimed the lives of over a thousand people.
The relative peace overnight was in contrast to events on Monday which was the bloodiest day of the conflict with 32 people killed.
The latest violence on Monday night killed a family of four who died in an attack on the northern town of Beit Lahiya, and two teenage brothers who were killed in the southern city of Rafah.
The conflict has so far claimed the lives of 109 people, mostly Palestinians.
Egypt is attempting to broker a ceasefire with the help of Qatar and Turkey. Ban Ki-Moon will visit Jerusalem today to further those efforts.
Meanwhile in a strongly-worded op-ed in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, the son of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, Gilad Sharon, has said that all of Gaza should be flattened.
“The residents of Gaza are not innocent, they elected Hamas,” he writes. “The Gazans aren’t hostages; they chose this freely, and must live with the consequences.
He adds: “The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima—the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.”
- with reporting from AFP