Israel Steps Up Bombardment of Gaza as Ceasefire Remains Elusive
By Vasudevan Sridharan | November 21, 2012 4:03 PM EST
Israel has intensified its bombardment of Gaza as talks to bring a ceasefire to the week-long violence have yet to yield any concrete results.
Scores of explosions have rocked the Gaza Strip, killing at least 26 Palestinians on Tuesday, as Israel Defense Forces (IDF) unleashed fresh attacks on multiple targets. Israel also dropped leaflets urging the Gaza villagers in key areas to evacuate and move to safer places.
The death toll on the Palestinian side has now reached 130, according to Gaza health officials.
The arrival of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Cairo has so far made little difference to the violence in the region. Clinton has been holding late-night talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an attempt to broker a ceasefire, and is about to hold talks with Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi.
Clinton said: "The goal must be a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike. America's commitment to Israel's security is rock-solid and unwavering. That is why we believe it is essential to de-escalate the situation in Gaza."
Netanyahu said he is ready take "whatever action" necessary if the situation escalates, although he welcomes a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Both Hamas and Israel have blamed each other for the stalled negotiations. An official told Israel Radio that "a last-minute delay in the understandings" between the two sides has been holding up the peace plan.
Despite the present impasse, some reports suggest a deal on the Egypt-brokered truce may be struck on Wednesday.
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