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Israeli aircraft continue to strike Gaza as rockets fired from Syria and Lebanon

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has asked the UN to protect the Palestinian state.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

ISRAEL KEPT UP air strikes and artillery fire on the Gaza Strip despite diplomatic efforts to halt the bloodshed, as its offensive entered the seventh day.

Aircraft struck three training facilities of Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, around the coastal territory, but caused no casualties, medics and eyewitnesses said.

They also hit buildings in Gaza City, Deir el-Balah in the southern part of the strip, and in the northern town of Jabaliya, injuring an unspecified number of people.

There was shelling reported in Beit Lahiya, in the far north of the strip, where Israel had earlier warned residents of an impending assault.

Israel also moved against Hamas in the occupied West Bank, arresting at least five of the movement’s lawmakers in Nablus and Jenin, Palestinian security officials told AFP.

CORRECTION Mideast Israel Palestinians Palestinian mourners gather around the grave of a member of the al-Batsh family who were killed in Saturday's Israeli airstrike. Source: AP/Press Association Images

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said “too many” Palestinian civilians have been killed, as the Palestinian death toll from the punishing Israeli campaign hit 172 with another 1,230 people wounded.

Ban also urged Israel to scrap plans for a potentially devastating ground offensive, fears of which have sent Gazans fleeing from the north.

Israeli media reported that a security cabinet meeting ended late Sunday with no orders for a ground assault.

Israeli army radio quoted security sources “at the most senior level” as saying that there were “four channels for attempts to reach a ceasefire — Qatar, the Palestinian Authority, the Americans and the Egyptians.”

“According to those sources the Egyptian channel is the strongest, the most significant and the one that draws together all those channels of mediation,” the station’s military affairs reporter said.

But despite increasing calls for a ceasefire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the military was hitting Hamas “with growing force”, warning there was no end in sight.

“We do not know when this operation will end,” he told ministers.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said he would ask Ban to “put the State of Palestine under the UN international protection system” in order to address the violence in Gaza.

As the death toll rose, the Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said most of the victims were civilians, putting their number at more than 130, among them 35 children and 26 women.

Mideast Israel Palestinians A Palestinian boy feeds his sheep with garbage on the street in Gaza City. Source: Lefteris Pitarakis

So far, no Israelis have been killed, although militants in Gaza have pounded the south and centre of the country with about 715 rockets since the fighting began on July 8, an army spokeswoman told AFP late Sunday. Around 160 had been intercepted, she said.

Rocket fire from Syria, Lebanon

For the first time during the Israeli operation, a rocket fired from Syria hit the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan heights but landed on empty ground, causing no casualties.

Israel responded with artillery fire at Syrian army positions, the Israeli military said.

Four rockets fired from southern Lebanon struck northern Israel early Monday, Lebanese security sources said.

CORRECTION Mideast Israel Palestinians Palestinians give greetings in front of the damaged house of a cousin of Gaza police chief Taysir al-Batsh after it was hit by an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City. Source: AP/Press Association Images

No casualties were reported in Israel and the army responded with artillery fire.

An AFP correspondent in southern Lebanon reported more than 30 shells were fired, but there was no information yet on casualties.

On Sunday, Israeli naval commandos staged a brief ground assault in northern Gaza on a mission to destroy longer-range rockets, with the army warning residents to leave the area ahead of a major assault on the sector.

Hamas told Gazans to ignore the Israeli warnings.

- © AFP, 2014

Read: Thousands of families flee Gaza with nothing in fear of their lives

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