Israel Strikes On Hamas Escalate, Killing Civilians In Gaza

Israel escalated its missile attacks on the Gaza region, bringing the Palestinian death toll close to 100, over half of them civilians. The U.S. and Egypt have attempted to initiate a diplomatic solution.

Violence continues to escalate in the Gaza region, as Hamas and Israel trade demands as they trade missiles. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and U.S. President Barack Obama have tried to move the two sides toward peace, while supporting opposite sides of the conflict. Hamas has borne the brunt of the violence so far. The latest reports have put the death toll from Israeli strikes in Gaza at 96 Palestinians (though the exact number has varied across reports), more than half of them civilians. The number of injured has risen over 700, about a third of them children.

On Sunday, Israel began bombing homes of alleged activists in Gaza, dramatically increasing Palestinian civilian casualties. On at least one occasion, there has been dispute over whether a bombed home belonged to the intended target. Far from the “precision strikes” that countries often use to describe such attacks, many bombings have killed children, and others who are in no way directly involved with the conflict. Hamas has been returning fire, but not causing the same level of devastation. Palestinians fired 75 missiles into Israel on Sunday, but no deaths were reported. Many of the rockets were intercepted. One hit an empty school.

Egypt has emerged as a mediator between the two sides. The post-Mubarak regime in Egypt has taken a less militant stance toward Israel. While Egypt has condemned the Israeli attacks, and supports Hamas, they have sought to move toward a peaceful solution. U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed the United States’ alliance with Israel, but also stated that he wanted the two sides to move toward peace. While the fighting has all taken place in the air so far, he cautioned that it would be very difficult to stop if the conflict moved into a ground war.

"If we see a further escalation of the situation in Gaza, the likelihood of us getting back on any kind of peace track that leads to a two-state solution is going to be pushed off way into the future," Obama said.

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