Israeli Airstrikes Continue as Gaza Death Toll Passes 100

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By Vasudevan Sridharan | November 20, 2012 4:14 PM EST

An Israeli air force F15-E fighter jet takes off for a mission over the Gaza Strip, from the Tel Nof air base in central Israel - Reuters

Israeli forces continue to pound the Gaza Strip, killing and injuring dozens of people including women and children despite international efforts for a ceasefire.

The death roll in the region has reportedly reached 111, after six days of continuous airstrikes by the Israeli forces. More than half of those killed are civilians including 27 children, according to Gaza officials.

The latest casualties include Ramez Harb, senior commander of the Islamic Jihad militant group, who was killed during the Israeli bombardment of the Al-Sharouk media compound. The building housed the Hamas TV station Al-Aqsa, but also accommodated international firms such as Sky News and Al-Arabiya.

Israel has denied attacking international media companies, insisting that its sole target in the Al-Sharouk bombardment was Hamas's communication equipment.

"Hamas used communication facilities on buildings where journalists were. Hamas command and control [the al-Aqsa media] facility. Just as in other totalitarian regimes, the media is used by the regime for command and control and also for security purposes. From our point of view, that's not a legitimate journalist," Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev told Al Jazeera.

Egypt, which shares its border with Gaza, is continuing to lead international efforts to bring a ceasefire to the Gaza Strip.

US President Barack Obama spoke to Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone and expressed his regret for the loss of lives in the region.

"The two leaders discussed ways to de-escalate the situation in Gaza, and President Obama underscored the necessity of Hamas ending rocket fire into Israel. President Obama then called Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and received an update on the situation in Gaza and Israel. In both calls, President Obama expressed regret for the loss of Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives," said the White House.

Though senior representatives from both Hamas and Israel are in Cairo to hold talks, no deal has yet been struck on Egypt's proposed ceasefire plan. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also arrived in the Egyptian capital to discuss a potential ceasefire before he meets the leaders of both Israel and Palestine.

The Israeli cabinet including top diplomats and security officials, are also said to be working on a ceasefire proposal.

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