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Gaza toll hits 100 as truce efforts waver

JERUSALEM: Israel’s aerial bombardment of Gaza claimed its 100th Palestinian life on Friday as Hamas pounded central Israel with rockets and Washington offered to help broker a truce. Diplomatic efforts to end the hostilities between Israel and Hamas gathered pace, with US President Barack Obama phoning Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities,” the White House said.
Raising fears of an expanded conflict, at least one rocket fired from Lebanon struck an open area in northern Israel.
But despite mounting international concerns, truce efforts were falling on deaf ears, according to Egypt, which has played a key role in mediating previous Hamas-Israel ceasefires.
“Egypt has communicated with all sides to halt violence against civilians and called on them to continue with the truce agreement signed in November 2012,” the foreign ministry said. “Unfortunately, these efforts... have met with stubbornness.” Neither of the warring sides appeared to have any interest in backing down. After weeks of rising rocket fire on its south, Israel appeared bent on dealing a fatal blow to Hamas, with Netanyahu reportedly saying talk of a ceasefire was “not even on the agenda”. And Ismail Haniya, Gaza’s former prime minister and the most senior Hamas official in the coastal enclave, also ruled out any end to hostilities. 

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Aaj Kal